Coming to voice : identity and change in the teaching of writing to women

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

As a teacher of creative writing, the researcher is interested in the most effective and appropriate approach to the teaching of writing to women. This study considers two approaches to the teaching of writing - writing as self expression, and writing as social practice. It outlines the theoretical framework of these two approaches, in terms of three key concepts - self, language and change. It looks at the implications of these approaches in terms of their approach to autobiography and in terms of 'the writing scene' - the context for women writers - and in particular, it looks at how women are affected by the approaches. The study then explores the implications of a feminist poststructuralist approach to the teaching of writing. The theoretical framework of this approach is discussed, again in terms of the three key concepts of self, language and change; and the approach is then 'translated' into the practical research of the study. Positioning itself as feminist advocacy research, it takes the form of an action research study where a series of writing workshops is designed and then facilitated in a selected group of women participants. The study analyses the process, the writing produced in the workshops, and the interviews with the participants after the workshops, in terms of how they reflect the central concepts, self, language and change of the feminist poststructuralist approach. The study concludes with a summary of the essential ingredients of a poststructuralist approach, it comments on the generalisability of the research to other groups, and comments on the research process in terms of the researcher's intentions as a piece of feminist advocacy research. In line with feminist research, the researcher is concerned that this dissertation is written in such a way as to be of practical use to a teacher of writing who might like to adopt a feminist poststructuralist approach. With this in mind, a complete set of workshop outlines is given in Appendix A, a complete set of handouts in Appendix B, and some resource material for teachers in Appendix C. Bibliography: pages 121-129.