Identity Formation

This exhibit explores two aspects of identity formation--literary identity and the expression of writerly identity. Literary identity is signaled through character and plot development and how readers negotiate interpretations of the text. In drafted material and letters between Cormier and his readers, we see such grapplings with how characters' identities unfold. In Cormier's universe, what is deemed appropriate and moral in society is often at odds with the realities of his antagonists, which serves to show, in sharp relief, what we label as monstrous and shameful.

While his characters are frequently morally dubious, Cormier's motives to continually write seems to arise from making genuine emotional connections with characters, stories, and even readers. In this collection, we see Cormier's struggles to persistently write early in his career and his instance on representing authors as a living person. Students' conversations with Cormier, whether via speakerphone interview or letter exchanges, also reveal their curiosity about their own potential writing identities through their interest in Cormier's life and sources of inspiration, particularly surrounding autobiographical writing and the craft of writing.