Date of Award

Fall 12-12-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Lynee Gaillet

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Lamb

Third Advisor

Dr. Nancy Chase

Abstract

In an effort to connect women’s spiritual development to the general call for professors to reconnect significantly with their students, this dissertation argues that expressive writing should remain a staple of the composition curriculum. It suggests that the uses of expressive writing should be expanded and explored by students and professors of composition and that each should become familiar with the link between writing and emotional wellness. In cancer centers, schools of medicine, and pregnancy care centers, writing is being used as a tool of therapy. More than just a technique for helping people cope with the stresses of loss, pain, and abuse, teaching personal writing techniques enables writers to transfer their skill in writing narratives to other forms of writing, including the more traditional academic essay. By presenting interdisciplinary blending of composition and performance studies, the discussion introduces contemporary tools of writing that engage digital environments and digital storytelling techniques already familiar to students. An important highlight of the research, that allowing students to treat personal themes in the writing classroom boosts students’ overall academic performance, is a discussion relevant to professors outside of the English department. Spurred by the public health calls for intervention in the HIV and HPV spread on minority, tribal, and HBCU campuses, the essay also considers the appropriateness of offering the Life-Support Class (a mainstay of Pregnancy Care Centers) in campus clinics. The subject of emotion is treated in the essay in relation to women’s relationships on campus and the evasion and stigmatization of emotion among professors in the academic setting. Further, the essay highlights research which suggests that a fear of feminist retaliation interferes with campus psychologists’ recommendations for the best outcomes for sexual health. This dissertation follows the trend of feminist research methodology by explicitly exposing the author’s hopes and goals, which connect women’s spiritual formation to expressive writing.

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