While reading Parmasad, I thought about tone and voice. Many of the students I tutor value what they call "objective writing", and many pride themselves on the ability to write for a nameless audience. I tell these same students that even though it's academic writing, it's still writing, and writing should never be boring (a.k.a. voiceless). Good intentions aside, writing to the god of the nameless usually leads to a nameless tone in the writing, and there's no "there" there.
In writing a scholarly personal narrative (or a SPN), one injects personal experience into a larger academic conversation. Thus, to "signify" in a SPN, a writer need not adhere to an autobiographical format, because focusing on specific moments in time as they relate to bigger issues can be just as impactful, (Nash 30). Parmasad displays the effectiveness of SPNs when writing of the cultural disconnect she experienced while growing up as an Indian in Trinidad. Putting moments of her life under the microscope, Parmasad analyzes the importance of writing: "this remarkable exclusion, this invisibility, this feeling of voicelessness filled me with a maddening need to use my writing not as a shield but as a weapon to contest the historical marginalization of a whole people and the negation of my experiences" (135). From her viewpoint, writing is a tool to challenge the cultural limits and bring others to a higher level of understanding.
In my estimation, an SPN is essential to academia because a properly executed SPN will delve into the "raw marrow" of the writer's life, while bringing the validity of the experience to the forefront of a larger framework, (Nash 26). Developing confidence in writing often goes hand in hand with constructing a narrative, as writers glean key concepts after a re-telling of their experiences. Writing narratives can never be counterproductive, as I'm of the mindset that every high school student should write an SPN, and then again as an undergrad, and then again times again. Much like Nash's idolization of Kimble, the fugitive who reinvents his story in weekly episodic arcs, all writers should endeavor to find their ever-evolving voice to establish meaning (34-35).
Art can be lost if it cannot be understood. An important aspect in writing involves connections and how they're made. To sustain a connection, the language must be effective, and what better use of language as a learning tool utilizing your own voice? As an undergrad, many students are required to write a narrative essay, with no research or larger connection necessary. In contrast, writing an SPN is similar to cutting out a part of oneself, laying it across a table, and magnifying the meaning to fit a larger context. Both types of writing have a purpose, but at differing points in an academic career, an SPN is more purposeful. In fact, several drafts into either, new voice and meaning can be found..
Nash, J, Robert. "What is scholarly personal narrative writing?" Liberating Scholarly Writing. New York: Teachers College Press, 2004. Web.