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Personally Speaking

Personally Speaking

Experience as Evidence in Academic Discourse

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Candace Spigelman


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
208 pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Studies in Writing and Rhetoric


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About the Book

Responding to contemporary discussion about using personal accounts in academic writing, Personally Speaking: Experience as Evidence in Academic Discourse draws on classical and current rhetorical theory, feminist theory, and relevant examples from both published writers and first-year writing students to illustrate the advantages of blending experiential and academic perspectives.

Candace Spigelman examines how merging personal and scholarly worldviews produces useful contradictions and contributes to a more a complex understanding in academic writing. This rhetorical move allows for greater insights than the reading or writing of experiential or academic modes separately does. Personally Speaking foregrounds the semi-fictitious nature of personal stories and the rhetorical possibilities of evidence as Spigelman provides strategies for writing instructors who want to teach personal academic argument while supplying practical mechanisms for evaluating experiential claims.

The volume seeks to complicate and intensify disciplinary debates about how compositionists should write for publication and what kinds of writing should be taught to composition students. Spigelman not only supplies evidence as to why the personal can count as evidence but also relates how to use it effectively by including student samples that reflect particular features of personal writing. Finally, she lays the groundwork to move narrative from its current site as confessional writing to the domain of academic discourse.


Candace Spigelman is an associate professor at Penn State University, Berks-Lehigh Valley College, where she serves as the co-coordinator of Professional Writing. She is the author of Across Property Lines: Textual Ownership in Writing Groups. She received the 2002 Richard Ohmann Award for her article, “Argument and Evidence in the Case of the Personal,” in College English.


“This is a remarkable work. Personally Speaking is a carefully researched, thoughtful, and persuasive argument for the use of the personal in academic argument. Spigelman’s commitment to bringing students’ writing and experiences into the conversation makes the book much richer and more convincing.”

—Bruce Ballenger, Boise State University