Individuality or conformity? Identity in personal and university academic homepages

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30 Citations (Scopus)


The connection between writing and identity has been a subject of academic interest for some time and there is now broad agreement that identity is created from the texts we engage in and the semiotic choices we make. In this view, the process of constructing an identity most clearly involves selecting materials to present to others, a process which is seen most directly in personal homepages. It has become almost obligatory for academics to maintain some kind of online presence, although these homepages can also serve the university in several ways and therefore suppresses more personal facets of identity and act to position the author as an employee. As a result, many academics seek to escape the bland uniformity of the university personal page to present a more multi-faceted identity in a self-managed homepage. This paper explores the this relatively neglected area of composition to show how identity is discursively constructed in a corpus of 100 homepages of 50 academics, one university-managed and the other personally created. Focusing on textual content, design, links and photographs, I contrast some of the ways that academics elect to represent themselves as academics in these two environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-322
Number of pages14
JournalComputers and Composition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Academic discourse
  • Discourse analysis
  • Homepages
  • Identity
  • Multimodal texts

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