Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number4  December 2020                                         Pp.254-271

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Reimagining the Ever-Changing Construct of Saudi Writerly Identity: A Heuristic


Majed Alharbi
Department of English,College of Education,
Majmaah University
Majmaah, Saudi Arabia




This paper takes on a heuristic approach (Crowley & Debra, 2004) to the study of Saudi writerly identity. In this critical review paper, the author argues that little work has been carried out to study Saudi English as a second langauge (ESL) writers’ identity, for most of the empirical studies approach their writing as substandard writers. Therefore, this paper adds critical insights to the exciting literature about L2 Saudi writers and invite second language (L2) researchers to deconstruct the essentialized view towards peripheral writers. The paper also was guided by the question: how are ESL Saudi writers perceived in the Western educational system? Throughout the paper, the researcher problematizes that most studies about L2 Saudi writers are rife with references to phenomena in these student writings as negative transfers and linguistic errors. Other empirical studies were blinded from Saudi L2 discourse by the minutia of mechanism and look at students’ writings as illegitimate. However, studies like Canagarajah’s (2013) and Saba’s (2013) can forward the conversation into a deeper understanding of these students’ writing identities and how they perceive themselves as writers and knowledge constructors. The article briefly explores the current definition of identity and how it is related to second language writing, followed by an explanation of Ivanić’s framework of writer identity. Then, the paper reviews previous research on how ESL Arab students negotiate and construct their written identities in Western educational settings. Finally, the author proposes directions for future empirical research and promising windows for studying the identity of Saudi ESL writers.
Keywords: Arabic writing style, heuristic approach, identity, contrastive rhetoric

Cite as:  Alharbi, M. (2020). Reimagining the Ever-Changing Construct of Saudi Writerly Identity: A Heuristic Approach.  Arab World English Journal11 (4) .254-271.


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Dr. Majed Alharbi works as an assistant professor in the Department of English at Majma’ah
University, Saudi Arabia. He earned his PhD in Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies
from the University of New Mexico and his MA in TESOL from Murray State University in
Murray, Kentucky. His research focuses on second language writing and writers’ agency and
voice, discourse analysis, and critical literacy.
ORCid ID: 0000-0002-2392-9985