Life Writing, Identity, and the Classroom: Perspectives from Social and Educational Psychology


The attractiveness of life writings stems from its promise of exceptional intimacy with a writer. Yet that intimacy can come at a cost, especially in relation to writers from marginalized backgrounds. As many of them have noted, they can feel expected to produce vulnerable versions of themselves on the page for the vicarious satisfaction of white audiences. Such satisfactions can become especially problematic in the classroom when life writing by one author is allowed to stand for the experience of an entire social group. This article details strategies for de-essentializing the use of life writing in the classroom by underscoring the complexities both of race and of the classroom reading experience.

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