Here we analyze six individual blogs in terms of narrative, writing, and the self. These blogs were selected by participants because they deal with issues of narrative, writing, and the self of particular interest to the person analyzing the blog. As we explained in the Introduction, the primary impetus for reading Clarissa and personal blogs together was Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s (2007) argument that “the personal blog might be in an analogous situation to the early [epistolary] novel.” In this section, each author offers analysis of a blog by employing some aspect of the narrative theory we used as an analytical framework for our reading of both Clarissa and contemporary blogs.
- “Investing in Identity: Narrative Agency in the Nomadic Chick’s Travel Blog,” by Rachel Gramer, examines a solo female travel blogger as she confronts the self culturally constructed for her and, instead, enacts her own set of lived values. The paper argues that the blogger’s most powerful agency is the narrative agency of blogging itself, which allows her to transcend the trope of solo traveler and highlights the affordances of blogs in constructing—and circulating—autobiographical narratives.
- In “Discourse and the Blog,” Steve Cohen argues that much scholarship in rhetorical genre studies has attempted to classify blogs into multiple categories, including “personal blogs” and “political blogs.” Blogs like Radical Faggot, however, complicate this delineation, forwarding personal expression as a form of political action.
- “Affordances of the Blog in Narrating Personal Identity and Building Community,” by Megan Faver Hartline, discusses the dual focus of a blog that works to write through the blogger’s own questions of identity and to build a community among Christians who share the blogger’s desire to examine the lines between doubt and faith. Of particular note are the affordances provided by blog’s use of readership and response.
- “(Re)constructing the Self Through Blogging,” by Keri Mathis, analyzes features that demonstrate a blog’s ability to foster narratives written to achieve recovery from psychological illness or other past afflictions. Specifically, the paper examines a blog that documents its author’s journey toward recovery from clinical depression, showing how this medium offers a promising site for the author to restore her sense of self and achieve a healthier identity.
- Kendra Sheehan, in “Writing Autobiography and Constructing Identity through Tumblr Blogs,” analyzes the relation between blogging and the formation of narrative identity in one Tumblr blog where the blogger posts both personal experiences and fan fiction.
- “Neither a Victim nor a Survivor,” by Debra Journet, examines a blog in which actions of transgressive sexuality (e.g., specific actions of BDSM) that were once understood as abusive were, nevertheless, repeated with their meaning utterly changed. The blogger’s ability to take similar events—even those that that are violent or extreme—and then narrate them in very different ways provides a dramatic (if controversial) example of the degree to which narrative is an interpretive process that can contribute to identity construction.