The following is my third course autobiography for the course I am taking on women’s writing. I just have to write one more of these and then a 20-page final paper, and my homework will be done for the semester! In this piece, I wrote about how I would use this text to create a framework for a creative nonfiction essay assignment. I think this would also make an excellent writing prompt!
The Embodiment of Labels
In Plaintext, Nancy Mairs explores how individuals embody the labels that are placed on them by society. In her essay, “On Being a Cripple,” Mairs chooses to define herself as a “cripple” regardless of the fact that others may wince at the word. She says, “Perhaps I want them to wince. I want them to see me as a tough customer, one to whom the fates/gods/viruses have not been kind, but who can face the brutal truth of her existence squarely. As a cripple, I swagger” (9). She challenges the politically correct euphemisms that others use and would have her use to describe herself. In many ways, she refuses to meet society’s expectations of her as a cripple, even seeking to change the meaning of the word. I would like to teach this text in a writing course where I could ask students to examine their own labels, how they embody their labels, and how societal expectations based on these labels impact the individual, as well as how the individual can impact society by either meeting or shattering those expectations. Continue reading “An analysis of “Plaintext” by Nancy Mairs”