ANNUAL LITTLE 5 SPECIAL SECTION Check out the insert for more information about the history and details of this weekend’s events. friDAY, April 27, 2012
Indiana’s Oldest College Newspaper
Life Writing: An ethical source of self identity, or painful invasion of privacy? accounts spurred reactions of praise and disgust from the media. “A good bit of other people thought that it The personal stories detailed by autobiogra- [“The Kiss”] was symptomatic of culture which phies, biographies and memoirs play an integral people were talking too much about private marole in shaping identity and memories, painting terial about that deserved to be kept private,” Eavivid pictures of the human experience, but these kin said. “One reviewer in The Wall Street Journal pictures can quickly become too vivid, violating said ‘hush up.’ The question turned less on violating the incest taboo to violating privacy. Was she privacy. On Tuesday evening, roughly 30 students, fac- merchandising pain?” This memoir as one of the initial sparked sevulty, staff and Greencastle community members gathered to hear John Eakin’s reflections on life eral questions in the discussion of the ethics of writing in his talk, “Telling Life Stories: The Good life writing, such as the right to privacy and the underlying issues of respect for the persons deof It, and the Harm.” In the final installment of a speaker series at picted in biographical writing. “Complicating my thinking about this questhe Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics on the ethics tion was my belief that our of life writing, Eakin, a profesidentities are relational, that is sor at Indiana University and my sense of my self as an indione of the foremost authorividual is a function in no small ties on the autobiography and “Everyone is talking part in my understanding of my memoir, addressed the comabout themselves online, relationships to other people, plexities of the genre. “When I first began writ- so what does this spell for particularly the near and dear siblings and friends,” Eakin ing autobiography, I had the the practice of said. “So if that’s the case, if predisposition to think that it our identities are relational and was good,” Eakin said. “I also self-representation?” hence our privacies are shared, thought that it was a good thing -John Eakin, professor at where does one life end and anfor those who wrote it because Indiana University other begin?” I think that it assists, it forwards As Eakin examined the role what I think of as a process of of ethics and privacy in the life long identity formation. It genre of life writing, he began can promote our understanding our understanding of who we have been and to contemplate the threats posed by social media to privacy, as life stories are oversimplified and who we become.” Yet as Eakin’s career progressed and he be- overly publicized. “Everyone is talking about themselves online, gan to examine the ethics behind life writing, he realized the duality of the genre. Through the so what does this spell for the practice of selfexamination of other’s biographies and his own representation?” Eakin said. “New kinds of self experiences with life writing, Eakin explored the are emerging as a result, there the trouble of the potential harm caused by publicizing personal erasure of personhood that results from the mismoments, while also considering the potential match they see between who we are as persons and what information technology is capable of value that can arise out of this type of writing. Eakin explored the controversies sparked by saying we are.” While the ethical complexities of life writing past autobiographies and memoirs, such as Kathryn Harrison’s confessional memoir “The Kiss,” about her affair with her father during her college years. Harrison’s brutally honest and personal Life Writing | continued on page 3
vol. 160, issue 46
little 5 week: Mini 5
By BECCA STANEK
Senior Kelsey Floyd turns freshman Nick Horn into a human ice cream sundae during Thursday afternoon’s Mini 5 relay event. The relay consisted of various messy stations including a pudding drop, where one blindfolded partner had to drop pudding into the other partner’s mouth. emily green/the depauw
The 45th issue of the 160th volume of Indiana's Oldest College Newspaper.