The Politics of the Personal Narrative Essay (Deadline 9-30)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2016
Northeast Modern Language Association – March 23-26, 2017 – Baltimore, MD

This panel will explore the potential (and threshold) of the personal narrative essay in our first-year writing courses. As opposed to other writing assignments (the research paper, the persuasive essay) that appear more geared toward developing transferable skills, the personal narrative is often considered, to borrow from Elizabeth Wardle, a “mutt genre,” meaning a genre important only in first-year writing courses to which they are also exclusive. However, this panel carefully considers how the personal narrative prompts and encourages such skills as rhetorical maneuvering, genre awareness, and metacognition, which many Transfer Studies scholars (see for instance: Devitt [2007]; Nowacek [2011]; or Russell [2002]) have often prioritized.

We will discuss but by no means limit ourselves to the following questions: how do we as writing instructors combat the notion that the personal narrative essay is nothing more than standard first-year “fluff” that all students simply “b.s” for the sake of a grade? (Bergmann and Zapernik 125). How might we use the personal narrative to foster transferable skills that will assist students in their future courses of study and their eventual professional fields? 

Proposals of no more than 200 words need to be submitted through the NeMLA website. The call for papers for this particular panel can be accessed via the following link:

To submit your proposal, click on the “Submit Abstract” button on the top right of the screen.