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Teaching and Learning Forum 2002 [ Proceedings Contents ]

Write of Passage

Lorri Neilsen
Mount Saint Vincent University
Manuscript under review: Please do not
quote without permission from the author.

She sat in my office, picking at her hands, her eyes wet with tears.

"You've done enough," I assured her. "Stop. Stop now. You've read close to thirty books for this reading course. You understand all the theory. It's time to move on to writing.

"But everyone else says it so much better than I could. They're the experts. And I just can't write. What could I say that's new?

I sighed as she left my office. Another middle-aged student who has accomplished amazing feats in her life. Another capable mother or sister or wife who can negotiate the rocky roads of child-raising, or minimum-waged work, or chemotherapy, or battery, or the death of a loved one as though she was born to scale cliffs. Another fiercely intelligent and heart-full soul at the top of her form elsewhere, but who arrives into the university, eyes down, wracked with anxiety and crippled by a deference that is almost criminal in its intensity. It took me weeks to convince this woman to stop calling me Professor. And now, it's taken a semester to dispel her belief that she must read and memorize everything in the universe before she has permission to develop an opinion of her own.

As university teachers, we often hear these words: "Is this what you wanted?" "How many references shall I include?" "Well, I thought it might be X or Y, but it must be Z - after all, that's what all the literature is saying." "It didn't make sense to me, but what do I know?"

What do I know, indeed. Ah yes. Many of us remember those very words coming out of our own mouths. Writing is a means of fostering agency, of disrupting assumptions, of rewriting one's place in life and learning. The research I've undertaken the last few years, largely with masters' students in education, shows that writing plays a critical role in women's sense of agency (Neilsen, 1998). Both the process and the products of writing develop an author-ity that expands and extends voice, engenders courage and inspires a conviction to effect change in personal and professional contexts. In particular, the opportunity to write in diverse genres - beyond accepted conventions of traditional academic discourse - enables women to write out loud with enthusiasm and energy, surprising themselves with the danger, joy, and power in their own voices.

But the journey to writing that promotes agency can be a long one. As someone well-schooled in being a good student and a good girl, I learned to play 'discursive dress-up," writing in the voices and the codes that would enable me to be accepted into the academy. And the more fluent I became in the discourses du jour, the more alienated I became from the kind of writing that resonated with who I thought I was or might become. During my first year in graduate school, I studied the personal essay in the English Department and research methods in the Education department, and found myself torn. I have described it this way:

"Writing (the personal essay) gave shape to my experience, and the process of writing allowed me to plumb stories and recollections from places I'd forgotten existed. For the first time in my schooling, I was given permission to write about my life in ways of my choosing, to allow my whole being, to talk on the page. 'We tell ourselves stories in order to live,' Joan Didion wrote. In this, the first line of Didion's The White Album, I heard a voice... that told stories resonating with my own life. Literary journalism... this 'personal' journey into society and culture, this was both research and art" (Neilsen, 1998: 28).
Yet when it came time to write my research in education for publication in a research journal, my advisor urged me to write in a way that was "distant, objective, and authoritative." True, twenty years ago, there were stronger distinctions - more hardening of the categories with regard to genres, if you will - and there remains the need for varying genres for differing purposes, effects, and audiences, to be sure. Yet, the putative goal of my writing and my research was to effect change, especially among educators and the public. I struggled. (From Knowing her Place (1998: 33)): "the syntax was knotted, tangled, and the prescriptive formula for writing up research results" - the phrase 'writing up' here bespeaks a perspective on writing that I did not share then and do not share now - "forced dry and lifeless words out of my pen" (1998:33). I could not imagine taking the article back to the junior high school to share it with my former colleagues: the language was in another tongue. The voice came from the mouth of a mask. I was ventriloquating academic discourse.

And why? To be accepted, of course. To gain entrance to the scholarly guild, the same guild that would not have accepted my grandmother. Joan Bolker says: "writing is not only a metaphor for the problem, but the thing itself: women's inability to write their concerns out into the public realm both increases their powerlessness and arises from it. "(185). She adds, (and) "if those among us who have had the most advantages have had this much difficulty overcoming silence, what hope is there for the woman who has never known she is entitled to any power in the world?" (186).

Both males and females face challenges in learning to write and in developing a writing voice, and while it is equally true that we must devote our attention in our classrooms to all students --regardless of race, class, gender, cultural identity, or ability - my discussion here focuses on the difficulties that women, in particular, face, and on the ways in which writing can, when we create a space, become "writing of passage," a means of reflection and action that helps women to negotiate pivotal points, critical junctures, in their lives and their learning.

I realize I am dancing with essentialism here. Women are diverse beings across and between class, cultural, and other locations. But what I do know is this: Working and learning from women has brought me into the lives and the writing of novelists, poets, health workers, and public school and community based teachers in Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Ireland and Australia. They come from a range of communities within these contexts: white working class and middle class, of European descent, First Nations, Maori, Trinidadian and African-Canadian. All share similar experiences of schooling, regardless of location. All share the experience - differing only in degree -- of struggling with and for voice, for words they can claim as their own. The majority have worked inside disciplines or institutions in which the discursive practices are marked by patriarchal values, the same values, I might add, that limit the potential of males and females alike.

For remainder of this discussion, I want to explore two main tensions with regard to women and writing: One is the tension inherent in the grammar of voice. The second is the instructive tension I find in the two related words 'genre,' and 'gender.' Throughout the discussion, I will draw upon the writing of women participants in my research, as well as essayists, poets, and others whose words, whose 'writes' of passage illustrate - in many cases very vividly and profoundly - the tensions and passages they are trying to negotiate.

Canadian poet and philosopher Jan Zwicky says "the grammar of thought reveals itself in style" (1988: 292). Let me start with an aspect of syntax familiar to all of us: voice. Here I do not mean the sense of agency, one's sense of having a say in the affairs of one's life or the world, although I will get to that in a moment. Here I mean the relationship of the subject, verb, and object in a sentence. Active voice and passive voice. I wrote the story - Active. The story was written by me - passive. We often see passive constructions from the pens of new, inexperienced, tentative writers: "many interesting sites were seen on our summer vacation." We also see the passive from those who prefer not to take ownership for their actions-evasive politicians and bureaucrats come immediately to mind here: The decision to sack you was made at our meeting this morning.

As a consultant to business and government writers for years, I can attest to the fact that the passive disease in North America exists in epidemic proportions. But here I refer to its use in conversation, personal narrative, journal entries, and response or position papers. And here it becomes a metaphor for the woman's sense of agency. What has been striking to me is the frequency with which the women students avoid the active construction - or default to the passive - when they first begin to write accounts of their lives. When I've asked them about this - especially about their reluctance to use the word "I," they invoke the red pen syndrome, memories of teachers whose red ink left papers bloody and battered (awk, dang. part, mispl. mod, and so on) "I was told I shouldn't use I" or "It sounds more formal when I write this way." This is not an experience unique to women, yet women seem more inclined to take it to heart and to carry it beyond public school. I'm sure we can all identify with the examination experience Sharon Olds writes about in her poem, The Defense.

The Defense

When I walked into the seminar room
with my dissertation, our son floated in out
before me, treaded water in,
almost nine months old, upside-
down, sucking his thumb. My advisor
had called my thesis original,
richly metaphorical, and so
free of footnotes-I secretly thought
I might win something. But he didn't show up,
and the Chair of the Department had a pillar of mail
and a wastebasket down by his leg - for two hours,
he disemboweled. Two other men were
muttering to each other out the sides of their mouths,
and doing their hard har, har,
har. I cited my advisor for his
encouragement, I described the yards
of file cards, the research, but after five minutes of their
jokes and smirks, I saw that they meant
to flunk me. I drew my powers together,
110 pounds of me,
40 of the pregnancy
and 7 of my baby. Two hours later,
they asked me to leave the room for an interval
and they voted: Fail, Fail, Fail,
and You Can't Do That--
the one woman. When I lumbered back in,
our son's sweet palate may have wrinkled up
at the taste of fear's sour effluent-
who was polluting his waters? (Rip)
They wanted (Rip) a dissertation
absolutely new, without one
word (Rip) of this one-except
"the" was all right, and "and." How much
time shall we give her, gentlemen? How about
-nine months? Har, har,
har. My cervix bent, for a moment,
with intimate, private hurt. I said,
Thank you. I thought, if you have hurt my child,
if you have curdled my milk with that, I will find you, and I--
And at that, my son's hair stood
on end, in the saline.
Here are the words of a former student, Diane, writing in response to my request to describe a difficult incident in her life. She and her husband had leased service station. "I was nervous," she said, "about the undertaking of such a large business that had been mismanaged by the previous lessee. But after careful consideration, the decision was made to lease." Then thieves broke into the building, and robbed them. She continues: "The wall safe was smashed. Kevin's boots had been urinated into. Police reports were filed. Security was increased, along with the anxiety level."

The passive voice Diane uses here distances us from the Diane, the writer, and distances Diane and her husband, the centre of these events, from the events themselves. It may have been a means of coping with such violation, or it may have been an attempt to sound businesslike, or neutral. But, since this was a journal entry, not a formal report, her use of the passive here emphasizes her feelings of having events happen to her, of being an object in the world, not a subject. Even her phrase "Security was increased, along with the anxiety level," reflects no agency or ownership on her part.

The grammar of thought reveals itself in style. In her essay, "A room of one's own is not enough," Joan Bolker (1997:185) writes: (Voicelessness) is the inability to write our speak our central concerns. Or, to write, but as disembodied personae who bear no relation to our inherent voices: We say only what we think we're expected to say...." (185).

And the world helps us to perpetuate this practice as well, because the world - those around us --tend to hear what they expect us to say anyway. Here is a poem by Vicki Raymond, the Tasmanian-born poet:

Chat Show

"You never married." "No," he said,
"Relationships were not my forte."
"Any regrets?" "Ah....." Here we supply
the bitter-sweet accompaniment.
Of course. But he had higher ends
than procreation. Who could fill
the deep well of his genius? "Perhaps."

"You never married." "No," she said,
"I wasn't asked." Poor thing,
ceaseless shovelling her work
into that lack. "Regrets?"
"No, none at all." Oh well, she would say that.

In this poem we see the ways in which expectations we hold about the role of relationships in the lives of men and women are different for each and upheld, even when the woman, in this case, defies them. We see how society writes us.

Nancy Mairs says "women, for a variety of reasons, live in a polymorphic rather than a dimorphic world, a world in which the differentiation of self from other may never completely take place, in which multiple selves may engage ... with the multiple desires of the creatures in it" (1994: 42). Mairs adds that female subjectivity lies outside "language considered as the enunciation of sentences (noun+ verb, topic-comment, beginning-ending) " (1994:42). So, if we consider that women's language is frequently outside, from the margins, we can see then the ways this leads to what Walter Ong and more recently, Deborah Tannen refer to as the binary in academia: agonistic language (the language of combat) and conciliatory language (Ong, 1981: 29). Male discourse - active, centred; female discourse, passive, marginal. Sharon Olds' poem about her doctoral defence illustrates so well how the patriarchal discourse can dominate the academy (note, too, that it's not only men who reinforce the practices - it was a woman who remarked to Olds "You can't DO that").

What is it that keeps women like Diane from participating in the experience rather than being a scribe-observer? Why is it that she chose to erase herself? Is it that she has been socialized to consider language as something we wear, rather than a medium we live inside? The poet Robin Morgan writes of the invisible woman: "The invisible woman has great compassion. She pulls on her body like a rumpled glove, and switches on her voice to comfort the elated doctor with words (in Howe, 1993, No More Masks, p. 326).

Here are the words of a graduate student, Teresa, an award-winning teacher and innovator (nominated for the Prime Minister's award for teaching excellence), who has struggled in the school system for change, and is currently struggling to understand her own voicelessness:

My workshop began. I spoke for fifteen minutes then I let the men who were piloting the course answer the questions from the audience. Only men asked questions or made comments. All the women in the audience gave me approving nods and smiles, yet they sat in silence. There were five minutes left before I realized the imbalance and I had to pass out forms and send them on their way to lunch. When I walked away from the lecture room, I wondered why I let my feminism and liberal ideology get buried at my own goddam workshop.
Why does this happen?

Bolker offers an explanation:

"...there has been a pervasive and deep discrimination in my life in which I have co-operated, in the hope of being loved, and of not causing pain. The way to repair the sort of damage that does is not so much by wider opportunities (which make me oven more conscious of my inability to meet them, and of my complicity) but by deeper ones-by relationships that carry different values and different pay-offs" (184).
Is it as simple as women feeling on the outside in education, wanting in, and being willing to wear masks and disguise their voices in order to do so? Is it that the number of voices we are socialized to listen to drown out our own? Or, as some may argue, is it that silence is also a form of resistance and many women do not wish to jump into a public discussion they feel does not reflect their values?

I believe that there are occasions where women prefer not to enter the fray, occasions when we enter it in our minds, but choose not to speak, occasions when we cannot be heard regardless of how loudly we speak, and there are occasions when we are actively silenced. My research has shown overwhelmingly, however, that women have been socialized into, and too easily accept, a passive role in the world of ideas, that developing a voice remains exceedingly difficult, even in arenas which are pro-feminist and supportive. And the academy is a particularly difficult culture for women to develop a voice, because it is such a conservative culture. Rosemary Radford Ruether argues that we must develop alternative cultures and communities to support the dissenting consciousness" (Mairs,1994: 23). The academic world is a place of assertions, of propositional discourse, a place where provocation and debate are ritualized. Polymorphic perspectives are not always welcome in a climate where the aim is to take sides, to reduce the issues to black and white, winning and losing. There must be a critical mass, a community of those who resist and refuse winning and losing to provide support for us all to be heard, to grow an active voice, literally and metaphorically.

Let me end this section with a poem by Janice - her first - entitled The Knitters:

The Knitters

We knit,
we women.
We're knitters
We knit together our lives
in hats, in scarves, in sweaters.
We knit together our brow.
We knit together our words
in poems.
We write poetry
In poems,
we knit
with our mouths.
The second area I would like to address here, if only briefly, is the intersection of genre and gender.

"...(G)ender and genre are etymologically linked. Metzger argues that gender is genre's double. In literary as in other social texts, "gender interacts performatively with genre" (Metzger in Neilsen, 1998: 269). Autobiography, for example, is coded primarily female, particularly as a private act, not a public one; it is a popular, but typically debased genre. Researchers Maura McIntyre and Ardra Cole are currently using an autobiographical approach to the study of women with Alzheimer's - in this case, their mothers, using narrative (fiction and memoir), dance and visual performance to present their research data. From McIntyre's Does She Know Me? (2000):

When I get off the elevator and walk toward her and her face screws up tight and she starts to cry, when she smells the sleeve of my shirt, inhaling deeply, moving her nostrils slowly across my forearm, when she holds my hand in her hands, not one but two hands clasped tightly, lifting my hand to her mouth and starting to nibble, chewing on my fingers. Stop Mom, that hurts. When she sets her unblinking gaze on me, milky brown eyes that look steadily at me, deeply into me, eyes that see both nothing and everything....Does she know me? (Cole and McIntyre, 2000)
An excerpt from Cole's Her Mother's Daughter, a fictionalized memoir: "She repeated the rhythmic motion over and over. Fill spoon, raise to mouth, in out, wipe, sometimes pausing to allow her more time to chew or to give her a rest....She couldn't bring herself to chatter on as if everything were normal when.. the reality was...the person she was chattering to was feeding like a baby. At the same time, the child-like banter that seemed most appropriate for the task seemed not so for the person. She tipped the glass too little so that all she could hear was a sucking reflex and the mouth searched for more liquid from the rim" (Cole and McIntyre, 2000).

This is private, intimate detail presented as narrative research in the public domain, work done by senior researchers. As such, it subverts and resists the prevailing forces of scientistic discourse. As we are understanding so powerfully of late, this, too, is legitimate social science writing, valid forms to communicate research to both the academic world and the public (most especially the public). As many of you are aware, social science research is undergoing a blurring of genres, welcoming the literary arts of autobiography and memoir, poetry and prose poems, fiction, playscripts and all manner of literary works into masters and doctoral seminars, research journals and professional publications.

Recently, I have been privileged to be a reader for two Australian dissertations written by scholars Lekkie Hopkins and Rosie McLaren, in which memoir and poetry take centre stage; and to serve as examiner on a proliferating number of North American fictional works, scripts, and poetic renderings as dissertations, including the novel, Boundary Bay, by Rishma Dunlop. I have also been engaged in the ongoing discussion at US and Canadian conferences about the legitimacy of such writing as social science research and the challenges it poses for us as teachers in universities. A recent book I have edited with colleagues, The art of writing inquiry, a collection of exemplars of such research, seems to have caused a welcome storm of discussion - celebrated and used widely in North America, but yet, in some circles, still dismissed as not rigorous, not valid. Such powerful memorable writing is being produced largely by women students exploring forms that connect most deeply with how they wish to learn and to communicate.

Yet the academy loves our exclusive, esoteric language. And why? Aside from the very real fear factor (and I think this is more profound than most academics allow) - the fear of the intimate, the passionate, the messy, the personal, the emotional (after all, what do we do with such material, such raw humanity? It's so real, so present and unblinking) - there is the power of the status quo as I mentioned earlier. The feminist scholar Jane Roland Martin has made an eloquent argument against the esoteric language used in the academy, particularly among factions of feminist scholars. Speaking at a conference, she was told: "You cannot possibly be a feminist theorist. We can understand what you say." (2000, 34).

In an essay entitled "Scribbler" (Neilsen et al, 2001), I write that four arguments seem to appear whenever the discussion of elevated, abstruse language arises:

"Incoming graduate students can be dazzled by language that is initially incomprehensible. To be understood immediately is to be clear, is to be not scholarly enough, not elevated enough, not serious enough." (2001: 267).
Like Bourdieu who defends his esotericism by arguing that only complex language can capture complex ideas, or like Patti Lather who calls for us to "trouble clarity" (whatever that means), theorists, activists, educationists, and public intellectuals who cling to esoteric language create a gap between lived experience and our reflection, understanding, and ultimately, our sense of agency - active voice again -- to transform experience and society. This discourse most valued by the academy distances us all, but I argue that it distances women most especially, for all those many reasons we already know: marginality, concern with relationships, connection, and acceptance; women's incultured and persistent passivity, among others. Women I have worked with - whether they are students or colleagues -- most often prefer to write in a genre (to use their phrase) that is closest to the heart.

A. Manette Ansay has said:

It is meaningless to hold the yardstick of fact against the complexities of the human heart. Reality simply isn't large enough to hold us. (River Angel, 1998)
As I have written (Neilsen, 2001)
"The material world... is more mysterious and elusive than we want to admit. We want structures... the theory du jour, the bibliographic muscle, a position, a platform, a good academic hand with a lot of trump cards....

But this wish for structures of separation, for definition, for boundaries is the mark of the very Cartesian duality we continue to tell ourselves, as researchers, we are disrupting. Our agonistic practices..... allow us to create an "other," a being separate from us. While we deplore, at least in our publications and at the podium, turning underrepresented groups, research participants, and 'subjects' into Other, we do not think twice about objectifying our colleagues' arguments and indeed their very beings."

Cynthia Dillard, an African American scholar and administrator, has been exploring, along with her ideas of endarkened epistemologies, the writing of meditations as a way to understand her role in life and work.

Here is an excerpt from her poem "Doing Laundry"

Doing Laundry

the dirty clothes lie in a pile
in the corner against the wall.
I must sort
the light form the dark
the real dirty from the just so-so dirty
before I can wash them.
Distinct piles,
some big, some small,
I look at them and realize
how often I sort things -
and am sorted -
into categories:
This IS this,
THAT is that,
this is NOT that
African, American,
Foreigner, Rasta,
rich, poor
the bush, the city.
And if these categories were not enough
I then judge-
and am judged -
through these categories:
Academic writing, non-academic writing. Science, not science. The growing openness to using autobiography, memoir, poetry, and scripts, among other so-called non-academic genres in our classrooms - replacing the conventional academic essay - this blurring of genres opens new ways of thinking, opens possibilities for students they would not otherwise know. These genres make strong connections between lived experience and ideas, between theory and the day to day.

It's been my observation that the writing is strongest, most articulate, when writing of passage. This is Octavia, writing of the sensation of anomie, of being here but not here, in this case her travel to the west coast of Ireland where I held a summer institute:

I arrived here
with the vision
- of hedges
speeding past the window
of the bus

so now,
in this room with eyes-
still rapid,
the slow sea
seems bordered
by rushing

like after a
long drive
when the road

sleep with you.

Here is Mercedes, whose fears as a new teacher, an intern, appear on the page:


Sitting nervously on the couch
her hands choke the coffee mug.
None of these strangers sees the odd sweater button
or the finger she pricked sewing it on.
Legs crossed so long her toes tingle.
She shifts, casually. Smooth.
Velvet blue eyes fluttering. The
drumming in her ears is rhythmic. Each midday second
grinds off that clock. A silent
sip from the cup. The
Colombian aroma momentarily
melts the tension. A frozen
half-smile widens as the bell
explodes. Finally
she escapes.
This is Mercedes' first foray into writing poetry in a graduate course.

These are people who are exploring writing in ways they have not explored it before, using voices they are eager to develop.

And typically, that voice is a lyrical voice. It is a voice gesturing toward wholeness and integration, a voice imbued and embodied with emotion, connection, usually grounded in the particular - which, I might add does not make it less conceptual or intellectual, but perhaps may make it more universal in its particularity - usually written in a genre that allows mood, and the writer herself, to appear on the page. A voice that opens, revealing the song of its speaker. Nancy Mairs has said that it's not her 'voice' she must discover in her writing; it's Nancy. And when the academy opens to allow writers, especially women, to flex these multiple varied writing and self-composing muscles in all disciplines, not only the English and creative writing department, the academy itself will be enriched.

The philosopher Jan Zwicky offers the idea that analysis is a laser, and lyric is a bell. When we think of the weight of conventional academic discourse - that disembodied, distant, so-called authorative style, discourse that aims to make a point, we think of analysis. But the world of ideas is also the world of the rippling effects of stones dropped in water. Of the resonance of a bell, as Zwicky has suggested.

When given the choice to write about the ideas and issues that infuse our lives, women prefer, by a large margin, to explore those issues in lyrical forms. Of course women write standard academic propositional discourse. And of course men write poetry, fiction, and are celebrated for these genres. But where the opportunity to marry cognitive and embodied understanding is available, women students overwhelmingly choose poetry, plays, journals, diary forms, and fiction.

This lyricism, this singing on the page, spans lives, and remaps them. Bronwen Wallace's poem "Lifelines" captures for me the range and power of memory as song, word as song spanning a life:


...Songs that opened into rooms,
the place I lived with Peter. "All You Need
Is Love" and "Brown-Eyed Girl," like the smoke
and the red wine that carried us
into the long, long nights; I could go on,
but you've got your own lifeline, surely,
humming it now. I'll bet, as you hear this,
confident that it will all come back.
"Teen Angel" on the car-radio the other day
and me singing along, word-perfect,
everyone else suddenly silent
as if I'd just dropped in
from another planet.

Which I had, in a way,
all the brain cells
where I've stored the energy
for just that kind of travelling,
so that now I do thirty years,
easy, in an hour and not just
straight through, either,
detours and double-backs, leaps.....
....remapping my life, you could say, the way
this poem began, with a song
and something smaller too.......
(1987: 108)

It will require us to work together to open up to such forms, and to support and develop the skills and artfulness that such genres demand, and also to support that development in ways that do not create another tyrannical, and silencing, set of expectations.

It's a leap we can make. I will close with the words of Doris, a woman new to writing, the kind of individual who, like the woman in my office whom I mentioned at the outset of this discussion, was initially very tentative.

I can still remember the joy on my grandmother's face as she wrote her own name for the first time. Before attending night school in the Sixties, she had to depend on others to sign for her. Here was a woman who could spend hours creating fashions for my dolls without the use of a pattern, a woman who had not received any formal education in the small outport community she had grown up in. Here was a woman who found the courage to learn something new...

My pen moves across this smooth page...I am determining its destination. In doing this I feel alive... Chaos is in the background, but I can focus. I can reflect without worrying about judgement. I feel as if I am growing and growing. It is through this interaction of paper, pen, and mind that I feel an immense accomplishment. Years of getting to this point. All the lives that have gone before, leaving their imprint, like my grandmother. This process brings continuity to my world. I feel worthwhile.


Ansay, A. Manette (1998). River Angel. New York: Harper Collins.

Bateson, Mary Catherine (1989). Composing a life. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.

Bolker, Joan (1997). A room of one's own is not enough. In J. Bolker (Ed), The writer's home companion. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Cixous, H. (1991). Coming to writing and other essays (edited by D. Jenson). Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Cole, A. (2000). Her mother's daughter. Unpublished manuscript.

Cole, A. and McIntyre, M. (2000). Community-centred Arts-informed Research: Exploring Issues of Relevance and Accessibility through Performance. American Educational Research Association, New Orleans.

Dillard, Cynthia (2001). Manuscript in progress. Living Africa: A book of meditations. Ohio State University.

Dunlop, Rishma (1999). Boundary Bay. A novel as dissertation. University of British Columbia.

Heilbrun, C. (1988). Writing a woman's life. New York: Ballantine Books.

Mairs, N. (1994). Voice lessons: On becoming a (woman) writer. Boston: Beacon Press.

Marlatt, Daphne (2001). This tremor love is. Vancouver: Talonbooks.

Martin, Jane Roland (2000). Coming of age in academe. New York: Routledge.

Morgan, Robin (1993). The invisible woman. In F. Howe (Ed), No more masks. New York: Harper Collins, p.326.

McLaren, (1999). Rethinking the body-spaces for change: A qualitative analysis. Unpublished PhD dissertation. Curtin University of Technology.

Neilsen, L. (2001). Learning from the liminal. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Seattle, WA, April, 2001.

Neilsen, L. (2001). Scribbler. In L. Neilsen, A. Cole and J.G. Knowles (Eds), The art of writing inquiry. Great Tancook: Backalong Books.

Neilsen, L. (Ed) (2001). Writing and learning. Unpublished collection of graduate student writing, Mount Saint Vincent University.

Neilsen, L. (1998). Knowing her place: Research literacies and feminist occasions. San Francisco: Caddo Gap Press (in Canada, Backalong Books).

Neilsen, L. (1998a). Writing our foremothers: Women, re/search, writing. Presentation at the XV Inkshed Conference, Oak Island, Nova Scotia, May 8-10, 1998.

Neilsen, L. (1998b). Writing our foremothers: grand/mother lines. Presentation at the 1998 Conference on Qualitative Research in Education (QUIG), January 8-10, 1998. Athens, Georgia.

Neilsen, L. (Ed) (1997). Seventeen Voices: Writing from the shore. (The Lives and Learning of Women and Girls). Collection of writing from the Fundy Shore Summer Institute for teachers. Published internally. August, 1997.

Neilsen, L. (1996a). Making sense: Fantastic transgressions into research as literacy. Paper presented at the National Reading Conference, Charleston, SC, 4-7 December.

Neilsen, L. (1996b). Reclaiming the sign, Re-making sense: Feminist metaphors for a literacy of the possible. In James Flood, Shirley Brice Heath and Diane Lapp (Eds), A handbook for literacy educators: Research on teaching the communicative and visual arts. New York: Macmillan.

Neilsen, L. (1993). Women, literacy and agency: Beyond the master narratives. Atlantis, 18(1,2), 177-189.

Neilsen, L. (1993b). The academy of the kitchen table: Notes on feminist inquiry. Paper presented at the National Reading Conference, Charleston, South Carolina, December.

Olds, Sharon (1999). Blood, tin, straw. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Ong, Walter (1981). Fighting for life: Contest, sexuality, and consciousness. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, p. 29.

Raymond, Vicki (1995). Chat show. In Susan Lever (Ed), The Oxford book of Australian women's verse. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, (207) Originally published in Small Arm Practice (1989).

Wallace, Bronwen (1987). Lifelines. The Stubborn Particulars of Grace. Toronto: McLelland & Stewart, 107-109.

Zwicky, Jan (1992). Lyric Philosophy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Author: Professor Lorri Neilsen, Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada

Please cite as: Neilsen, L. (2002). . In Focusing on the Student. Proceedings of the 11th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 5-6 February 2002. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2002/neilsen.html

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