When the spoken word enlightens the written word: Investigating workers’ writing

By Éliane Le Port

Based on some fifteen interviews, this paper looks back at the writing experience of working-class authors whose testimonies were published between 1945 and 2016, and examines how this experience forges a writer’s identity. Several factors illustrate the importance of writing in the trajectories of authors, independently of the publication of one or more texts. In the course of the survey, most report an early taste for written expression, rooted in their adolescence. Prior to the publication of their testimony (or testimonies), some also engaged in various forms and actions of writing, particularly note-taking in the workplace. The narration of workers’ experiences (social, professional and militant), through the moments and places of writing, refers to the writer’s practices and representations. However, when most of these authors comment on and describe their act of writing, they euphemistically refer to their position as a writer.

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