Writing Trauma: Rita Dove, Willa Cather, and Toni Morrison

Maryann P. DiEdwardo


Case Study Research

Cultural Poetics identifies literature as a social text or discourse. My paper argues the significance of the works of Cather, Morrison and Ehrenreich as models for cultural change. Literature is a social text or discourse which dynamically interweaves multiple strands. My creative approach to teaching blends metacognition and hermeneutics with a concentration on social justice as a paradigm for the English classroom which resounds with tension and resolution dependent upon the silent resilience of the individual. Through student-directed pedagogical model, writing class fuses into a learning community for reflection, discovery, and peer editing for student motivation and success. We actively engage students to explore archetypical universes created by current imaginative writers. Mythological Literary Criticism and Film Theory as a lens into archetypes. We also engage in analysis of personal essays on identity. Metacognition and a student-directed pedagogical model. Through the paradigm of active learning, we engage in reading key articles by scholars in the field in blogs, wikis, web sites, books, pamphlets, newsletters, or journals or other material demonstrating techniques of close reading in order to explicate a text with terms of the literary scholar that apply to writing across the curriculum and differentiating among major literary genres to converse, to analyze, and to use cultural heritage. Students possess qualities of memory based upon human every day experiences similar to those experiences within literary works they read. I play pod casts of sample student essays that show how students recall events or conditions based upon the relationship of reading to memory. One of my students recalls her own beliefs in mercy killing and relates her heritage based upon family and cultural beliefs in the right to life. Students use life story writing next to recount experiences that may help them find thesis. We write for a global multiethnic and ageless audience. Stories can indeed reach all readers. To write, we engage memories of readings, life experiences and imagination. Accordingly, these three patterns compose voice on the written page. But, writing is an essential skill needed for human dignity.

My claim emphasizes the importance of reading, writing, and analysis of short stories by Toni Morrison and Willa Cather as well as poetry by Rita Dove as a doorway to practicing social justice in your community and to developing a consciousness and awareness of social justice praxis. I perform case study research on a single subject, myself. Dove was born in 1952. She is an American poet and fiction writer. My model in writing is Hélène Cixous. A visionary, Hélène Cixous (“The Laugh of the Medusa”) realized that we are writing to find ourselves. Applicable to the study of Willa Cather, Toni Morrison, and Barbara Ehrenreich, the writing of oneself represents our search for words to describe situations. Based on the study of Aristotle’s Poetics (free online text), a good companion work to interpret “art as imitation”, I argue that Cather, Morrison, and Ehrenreich use language in specific modes of discourse, such as fiction, essay, and dialogue, for the purpose of reaching readers. In doing so, they absolutely attempt to motivate and to teach us. In fact, through the art of poetics as a practice, they capture emotions or actions. Then they apply language as metaphors of our actions, ethics, and attitudes. The works portray the human condition. Cather, Morrison, and Ehrenreich create the poetics of language essential to the significance of the messages. In this context, all three writers portray actions and indicators that are significant to us as readers

First, the significance of the message of Willa Cather is suffering, in her book, My Mortal Enemy. My readings signify the message of Cather as a writer who designs poetics as the cause of the work. Recent research in the area of stylometrics…explores the ways in which the voice of Cather, in her correspondence, differs from the voice she used in her public writing. Conclusions point to similarities between Cather’s novel, My Mortal Enemy, a work noted for both its economy of style and autobiographical features, and her recently published letters (Dimmit et al.). The researchers acknowledge that Cather was very private. She did not want her letters shared with the public. Only recently have her letters finally been published. Arguably, in the model of Hélène Cixous, we suggest that the writing of the work certainly brings a new voice that carries the message of the feminine myth.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/eshs.v4n3p18


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