Lit & Culture: Writing as Healing

Mark the first page of the book with a red marker for in the beginning the wound is invisible. –Edmond Jabès


For many writers, literary craft takes root in a wound. This wound varies in size, cause, diagnosis, and treatment. It can be vast in scope, such as a historical injustice visited on one’s ancestors; or, it can be more immediate to the writer, such as the loss of a loved one, romantic heartache, physical or mental illness. In our ENG 272 course Writing as Healing, we will investigate literary works encompassing themes of trauma and transformation. Along the way, we’ll encounter a variety of cultural narratives that rely on writing to address and redress the wounds of history. We’ll grapple with the challenges, constraints, and possibilities centered on conveying trauma through life writing versus imaginative writing. Lastly, we’ll devote considerable energy to Hauntology, which as a critical literary theory melds the writer’s present wound to cultural and ancestral wounds which linger throughout history.


Our course’s designation as a Writing Intensive calls for a minimum of 4,000 graded words. These graded words will materialize over the course of 2 papers (each with mandatory revisions), in addition to a number of investigation pieces, reflections, and group activities (often of a creative nature) that are designed to enhance our readings, discussions, and lectures. In order to write well, engaged reading is a must. We will devote time in class to developing constructive practices to enhance your writing skills and reading comprehension. Our course will include a final exam (but not a mid-term!) and quizzes will be given regularly every 2-3 weeks.


Because our class meets only twice a week (on Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30-2:45 @Sakamaki Hall A103) and because participation plays such a vital role in our learning community, if a student misses 3 classes, his/her/their final grade will automatically drop by 10 points; each absence to occur after will result in an additional deduction by 10 points (i.e. you miss 3 classes and your 93% drops to an 83%, you miss 4 classes, and your 83% drops to a 73%, and so on).


Lastly, as an instructor and fellow writer, it is my objective to help you as individuals realize your literary potential. This course is only one of many steps you will take in order to hone your craft. The path before you (same as the one behind you) is littered with obstacles. There are boulders and fallen branches, sudden inclines and fatal drops. What’s worse, you’re walking barefoot. The obstacles that you typically would overlook (had you a pair of hiking boots) now demand your full attention. Hiking barefoot requires slow and focused steps, as does writing, as does reading. This course is designed to broaden your awareness of, while deepening your sensitivity to, the things that most people overlook.