In this career-spanning intellectual auto-biography, inspiring educator and writer Lynn Z. Bloom brings to fore the trials and triumphs she has experienced in coming of age as a scholar, teacher, wife, mother, grandmother, and especially writer. A pioneering voice in the field of composition studies (before the discipline even had that name) and a chronic nonconformist, she is a lifelong advocate of opportunity, authenticity, and expression. Taking a stance in favor of bold creativity in living, teaching, and writing, Bloom warns against the snares and sneers of the seven deadly virtues-duty, rationality, conformity, efficiency, order, economy, and punctuality-that so often subvert the mission of education and the potential of expressive communication.
Ranging from the comic to the confessional, Bloom's memoir interweaves the pleasures and problems of a forbidden marriage and complex family, the joys of cooking and travel, the struggles to become a professor during an era that did not welcome women faculty, and the risks and rewards of heeding the siren call of creative nonfiction. These fifteen essays probe the assumptions and values-ethical, intellectual, social, aesthetic, and inevitably political-of what Bloom has found to be the most complicated, challenging, satisfying aspects of her loves and labors.
Emblematic of Bloom's methods for teaching teachers, her swiftly flowing prose is spiced with bold opinions, leavened with playful wit, and rich with revealing details as she surveys the defining moments in her personal life and in an academic field in which she has been a central figure. Failure, success, perplexity, resilience, and wonderment all rise to the surface in aseries of accounts that confide much about what is at stake for a writer, teacher, or woman striving to grow beyond conventional expectations. Her message is an open invitation to share in the exhilarating liberation of living and writing on the edge, far from the nay-saying of the seven deadly virtues and their acolytes, and where limitless creative possibilities abound.
Lynn Z. Bloom is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and the Aetna Chair of Writing at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. She is an author or editor of numerous books, including Doctor Spock: Biography of a Conservative Radical, Composition Studies as a Creative Art, and Writers without Borders. Her essay "(Im)Patient," which appears in this collection, was named a Notable Essay of 2005 in Best American Essays.
List of Illustrations ix
Coming to Life
Writing Blue Berries: Once More to My Summer Vacation 9
Coming Clean: Confession as a Lying Art 27
Becoming a Writer in a Dis/Orderly Discipline
The Seven Deadly Virtues 39
Coming of Age in the Field That Had No Name 56
Living to Tell the Tale: The Complicated Ethics of Creative Nonfiction 71
Academic Essays and the Vertical Pronoun 88
Teaching and Writing-in the Margins, on the Edge
Teaching College English as a Woman 103
Six Degrees of Separation, Six Degrees of Disclosure 124
Subverting the Academic Masterplot 136
The Arts of Living
Writing and Cooking, Cooking and Writing: And a Recipe for the Best Blueberry Pie 149
The Dinner Hours 162
The Two-Thousand-Mile Commute 174
Coming Home 196
Works Cited 207
About the Author 213