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Lifework: Connecting academic writing, teaching, and the sense of self

Judith Anne Levin, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In this dissertation I track ways that actively bringing the self to academic work for students, teachers, and scholars can enrich and strengthen both the self and the work. In Chapter 1 I interrelate theories that suggest connections between academic work and sense of self. These involve sources of identity in social locations that can generate negative or “shadowed” experiences of self, which in turn generate “life themes,” persistent emotional issues that students and faculty bring to their academic work directly and/or indirectly. In particular, I explore ways that classes which welcome students' writing about their life experience can help them move toward coming to terms with experience that has felt hidden, shameful, inaccessible, not integrated into the sense of self. ^ Such integration involves moving from either/or to both/and thinking about aspects of the self that seem mutually exclusive but, in a larger framework, can be seen as complementary and even necessary to each other. I look specifically at the individual ways we experience connections between emotional shadow and light, thinking and feeling, academic and personal concerns, public and private voices, mind and body, language and the senses. Learning that helps us make these connections can be integrative for sense of self, community, and society. Feminist connected teaching is one way to go in this direction, by moving away from thinking in terms of “killer dichotomies” that divide us from ourselves and others. Chapter 2 draws on participant-observation research that I did with four composition classes. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on case studies of my own experience of integrative writing and talk in school at many stages and students' experience in classes I have taught. ^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Literature, English

Recommended Citation

Levin, Judith Anne, "Lifework: Connecting academic writing, teaching, and the sense of self" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9967389.