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Writing and Healing

Combining the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and composition, James Pennebaker argues that writing about trauma can improve physical and mental health because it “robs [fear] of its power,” “naming an emotion or trauma legitimizes it […] and hence the sufferer is not alone,” writing can make someone see a trauma, “from different perspectives, in effect helping one to resolve it,” and “constructing a narrative about an event is a way of finding coherence and meaning in it” (97). Studies in the field show that those who write about trauma (both their feelings about the trauma as well as details about the actual traumatic event) have an “overall improved mood and a more positive outlook” four months after writing than they did before writing (96).

Both Molly Hurley Moran, in her article “Toward a Writing and Healing Approach in the Basic Writing Classroom: One Professor’s Personal Odyssey,” and Jane E. Hindman, in her article, “Integrating the Voices: Writing as Healing as the Way to Constructed Knowledge for Basic Writing,” advocate the use of writing to heal, and design their assignment sequences to allow students to write for this purpose.

Creative Writing

Rosemary Winslow and Monica Mische use creative writing assignments in order to stress the importance of details in all types of writing, whether creative or academic. Their use of hero quest visuals to prompt narratives, allows students to search for visual evidence to support their creative choices.

Barbara Gleason used oral and written stories in her classroom. Students first told a story orally, then they wrote the story. Students reported liking their written stories better.

Literature and Writing

Though Linda VonBergen believes the goal of first year composition and basic writing courses should be academic writing, she explains in her article, “Shaping the Point With Poetry,” that personal writing, when integrated with an imitation of a poetic form, can teach students to precisely make a point. This precision of language and direct point making, VonBurgen argues, is the goal of academic discourse.

VonBergen, citing Isocrates, who taught rhetoric by imitation, states that this method of instruction can improve “focus, development, and language in student narratives” (need pg number – cut off). Students mimic the structure of Countee Cullen’s poem “Incident” in their narrative essays, first describing the scene, then the incident, and then reacting to the incident using a subtle understatement at the end. VonBergen argues that by providing the students with a form, and a way to get at the point, students are able to better explore ideas instead of worrying about form.

Rosemary Winslow and Monica Mische use hero quest literature in their dual literature/writing course. This combination of reading and writing follows many of the reading/writing connections that have been explored in Basic Writing, tying readings into student’s experiences or ideas.

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Page last modified on July 27, 2007, at 08:20 PM