Jo Hsu “Exceeding Evidence: Personal Writing as the Negotiation of Identity.”
Thus far, most arguments for the inclusion of personal narrative in academic discourse have emphasized its place within conventional, evidence-based argumentation. Such approaches often risk oversimplifying and commodifying lived experiences. Urging a more dynamic conceptualization, this project considers the sociopolitical effect of personal writing as an accretive and negotiated process. I examine how Gloria Anzaldúa’s personal writing created opportunities for other marginalized voices to enter mainstream discourses. I then argue that subsequent applications of her writing often overemphasize the representative and descriptive elements, regarding her work as isolated texts rather than furthering her project of cultural change. Read as a process of (re)invention, however, Anzaldúa’s stories, engage, disrupt, and alter extant conversations. Her example demands a better understanding of personal narrative as intellectual “work” outside conventional argumentation. As a process of negotiation, personal writing participates not only in individual self-understanding, but in (re)defining the communities that we would like to inhabit.