Risky Writing: Self-Disclosure and Self-Transformation in the Classroom / Edition 1

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This is the final volume in a trilogy of works that examine the impact of writing and reading about traumatic subjects. "Diaries to an English Professor" (1994) explores the ways in which undergraduate students use psychoanalytic diaries to probe conflicted issues in their lives. "Surviving Literary Suicide" (1999) investigates how graduate students respond to suicidal literature-novels and poems that portray and sometimes glorify self-inflicted death.

In Risky Writing, Jeffrey Berman builds on those earlier studies, describing ways teachers can encourage college students to write safely on a wide range of subjects often deemed too personal or too dangerous for the classroom: grieving the loss of a beloved relative or friend, falling into depression, coping with the breakup of one's family, confronting sexual abuse, depicting a drug or alcohol problem, encountering racial prejudice. Berman points out that nearly everyone has difficulty talking or writing about such issues because they arouse shame and tend to be enshrouded in secrecy and silence. This is especially true for college students, who are just emerging from adolescence and find themselves at institutions that rarely promote self-disclosure.

Recognizing the controversial nature of his subject, Berman confronts academic opposition to personal writing head on. He also discusses the similarities between the "writing cure" and the "talking cure," the role of the teacher and audience in the self-disclosing classroom, and the pedagogical strategies necessary to minimize risk, including the importance of empathy and other befriending skills.

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Editorial Reviews

Jerome Bump
The best defense of personal writing I have seen. It will appeal to a broad audience because of the emphasis on actual examples of student writing and practical advice on teaching composition. Berman is obviously a master teacher from whom we can all learn a great deal.
Marian MacCurdy
The student writing quoted in this book is compelling,deeply moving,even at times painful to read. However,the students make it clear that their writing has helped to free them from the hardest part of these painful experiences — isolation and shame. These essays aren't confessional; they are transformational for both writers and readers in the class.
Library Journal
Depression, the death of someone close, sexual abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, and racial prejudice are not subjects most college students would willingly write about on a personal level for a class paper unless they were enrolled in one of Berman's classes at the University of Albany. The final volume of a trilogy that includes Diaries to an English Professor and Surviving Literary Suicide, Berman's latest work is based on five different sections of expository writing he taught from 1995 to 1999. It shows how teachers can encourage college students to write safely about personal experiences on sensitive subjects. Berman believes that "risky writing" is beneficial to students, arguing that writing about trauma gives them some power over it. Of course, Berman has critics among his colleagues, but he has allies among experts in fields such as psychology. And his students overwhelmingly agree that risky writing is beneficial. While many people would find this book interesting, its main audience is college instructors, recommending it primarily for academic libraries. Terry Christner, Hutchinson P.L., KS Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558493384
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 1/9/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Risky Writing: Theoretical and Practical Implications 21
2 Seeing Ourselves through the Eyes of Others 72
3 The Dark Side of Diversity 113
4 Sexual Disclosures Revisited 152
5 Unmasking Shame 183
6 Writing under the Influence 204
7 Pedagogy of Risk 231
Afterword 256
Appendix 275
Works Cited 287
Student Writers 297
Index 299
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