AWS 350: Women's Writing and Healing (taught Fall 2001)

Fall 2001
Carol Ellis, Ph.D.
(909) 607-2635 Office

The publication of Anne Frank's diary in 1952 initiated an interest in women's journal writing. This interest became activity and genre in the attempt to define and create women's studies curricula. The information found in the narration of daily lives discovers and shapes women's culture.

This seminar studies the role of women's journals as both activity in and genre of women's literature and culture. To look at cross-cultural women's journals is to see women's writing that pursues personal healing and cultural healing. Cultural healing may be defined both as recovery of women-centered values within patriarchy and the individual woman's recovery from dysfunction within her culture.

Therefore, we will ask several questions in this course:

What is the relation between writing and healing in women's journals? How does journal writing engage, assert, and develop self and culture?

What happens to us as we write?

How does daily writing invite cultural healing?

The recognition of writing as healing opens exciting new interpretations about journal writing and continues to confirm its value in gender and cultural studies.


Anderson, Charles M. and Marian M. MacCurdy. Writing and Healing: Toward an Informed Practice. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2000.

Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl.

Lorde, Audre. The Cancer Journals. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1992.

Putnam, Dana, et al., eds. The Journal Project: Dialogues and Conversations Inside Women's Studies. Toronto: Second Story Press, 1995.

Woolf, Virginia. A Writer's Diary. Leonard Woolf, ed. Harvest Books, 1989.

North American Women's Letters and Diaries (internet collection):
(access on-campus or through Claremont Colleges library website,

In addition, a woman's journal of student's choice.


1. Three pages of journal writing each day

2. Three essays:

The first essay is a study of how journal writing impacts healing (5-7 pp, due week 5--October 3)

The second essay looks at cultural healing in women's journal writing (5-7 pp, due week 8--October 24)

The third essay studies one's own journal writing over the semester (10-12 pp, due week 14--December 12)

3. Preparation, Participation, and Attendance at class meetings.

Course Schedule

Week 1   Introduction to the course, begin journal writing the first day of class.
Week 2   Read preface and introduction to Writing and Healing (xvi, 1-22). Examination of discourse in women's journal writing, methodology, and analysis
Week 3   Read Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl. Class discussion.
Week 4   Read Writing and Healing, Section I: "Finding Our Way In" (pp. 25-82). Class discussion.
Week 5   Read Woolf, A Writer's Diary. Class discussion. Essay #1 Due.
Week 6   Read Writing and Healing, Section II: "Traditions and Extensions" (pp. 85-245). Class Discussion.
Week 7   Become familiar with the North American Women's Letters and Diaries online collection; Class discussion of online writing; presentation on Online Journal Writing by Shasta Turner, Ph.D. Candidate in English.
Week 8   Read Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals. Class Discussion. Essay #2 Due.
Week 9   Read Writing and Healing, Section III, "Writing and Healing in the Classroom" (pp. 249-335). Class Discussion.
Week 10   Read The Journal Project. Class Discussion.
Week 11   Student presentations on selected women's journals.

Week 12

  Read Writing and Healing, Section IV, "Writing and Healing in the World" (pp. 357-448). Class Discussion.
Week 13   Continued student presentations on selected journals.
Week 14   Student presentations of third essay on own journal writing. Essay #3 Due.
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