Representation of Fernando Pessoa

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Writing & Reading Interests
  • Persona Studies

  • Identity/ Writerly Identity

  • Sociolinguistics

  • Composition/ Writing Pedagogy

  • Multigenre Writing

  • Poesy

  • Creative Non-fiction

  • Poetry (Romantic - Modern)

  • The Murder Mystery

  • Historical Fiction/ Period Pieces

  • Everything Dickens


M.P. Nolan is part of an emerging field known as Persona Studies. Scholars in this field use interdisciplinary research in order to interrogate theories and practices related to perceptions and/or facades of the self. As a writer and poet, Nolan's focus is often on writerly identification, the poet-self, or the role of the Poet, but she is also heavily interested in these ideas as they relate to student writers as well. This research has additionally led to a focus on Liminality, or those spaces between identities, fiction and reality, and various movements or ways of thinking. Recently, she has been working primarily with the works of modern poets in order to better understand the benefits of their methods of fragmentation or impersonal poetics in these terms. Thus, as an academic compositonist she primarily researches and practices Multigenre Writing.


At the Threshold of Sensibility: The Past, Present and Future of Writerly Identity Fragmentation


Expressions of written identity are compound amalgams, as the delicate balance between fictional and real often transcends corporeal standards in necessary and exciting ways— especially when a writer subverts the very conventions of his/her applied language. Therefore, this dissertation is an interdisciplinary, multigenre project that explores the terms of the writer’s own identity in relation to lingual constraints through a process referred to as fragmentation (or the act of depersonalizing the individual by dividing it into multiple entities), because it suggests that this process is essential to challenging the borders of the written self.


The initial chapters of this study define the language oriented issues of writerly identification and propose that a group of Modernist poets, particularly Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, can best help us to interrogate those binds. Using identity and genre theories from several scholarly fields as contextual framework, this critical analysis of a decidedly paradoxical methodology demonstrates how these poets exemplify a brand of identification for which all writers should strive. The second segment compares the Modernist aesthetic to contemporary modes of identity fragmentation regularly enacted through social media (i.e. “Catfishing”); it also showcases the dissertation author’s own written depersonalization through a current collection of poems. The final portion of this project is concerned with future applications of this performance, and thus surveys the student-writer’s identification within the standards, ultimately calling for the inclusion of poesy via Multigenre Writing in core curricula.



Learning to Circumvent the Lingual Limitations of the Written Self: The Rhetorical Benefits of  Poetic Fragmentation and
Internet “Catfishing”

One of the most complex relationships we have to convey as humans is the written identification of that which we call the self. Despite the fact that we are multifaceted beings, contemporary lingual limitations often force the perception of the individual as a definitive entity through three fundamental normative communication standards: authority, authenticity and moral accountability. This essay examines the resulting paradoxes of writerly identity in relation to these constructs, and simultaneously proposes that the way to rectify such issues is to embrace disparate identity performances of writings past and present.


Using research from multiple disciplines, including sociolinguistics, literary theory, and composition studies, this essay asserts that there is a great deal to be learned from the practices of two unlikely genres of written communication— Specifically, it draws a parallel between current internet culture and poetics, as the phenomenon of “catfishing” (or creating and portraying complex fictional identities through online profiles) parallels earlier modernist acts of fragmentation through poetry. Therefore, this paper argues that although their motives may differ considerably, both endeavors are useful rhetorical performances in that they provide a practical framework for circumventing common lingual identity traps. Ultimately, it suggests that these unconventional perspectives of the “impersonal” in and through writing can help us to (re)approach the methodology of lingual identification and those written performances of the self (professional and everyday) that may not properly serve us.


This article was published in the Persona Studies Journal May 2015




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