Special Topics in Wellness Writing
Special Topics Workshops are a series of 3 workshops, each 2 hours in duration and building on the Introduction to Wellness Writing Workshop. Each of these Special Topics Workshops come with 4 short, concentrated podcast lectures with recommended reading in order to best prepare participants for the 2-hour session. Recommended reading is short in page numbers, as we focus on deep, holistic, contemplative reading practices (such as going slowly and noticing our bodies and affect as learners). Setting aside about 2 hours to prepare for each workshop with the podcasts and readings significantly helps participants fully inhabit the learning process.
In this workshop series we study and practice writing methods that aid participants in accessing their identities, integrating their diverse knowledge, and honing creative practices that are simultaneously rigorous, empowering, and healing. We pay special attention to the traumatic impacts of structural systems of violence on our ways of knowing, asking how education itself becomes complicit in those systems. We seek to develop knowledge-making practices that are distinct from harmful methods that might fragment students' identities, coerce mind-body dualism, separate artistic practice from academic "theory," or disconnect us from our community life and the earth itself.
Overview of Special Topics Workshops
1). Three Toolkits: Drafting, Revising, and Editing
This first Special Topics Workshop helps participants identify the tools for three distinct, though interconnected, stages of the writing process. Participants learn psycho-social concepts as applied to what it means to fully integrate ourselves as we write, including how we stay connected to our body, the earth, and our subconscious knowledge (including ancestral knowledge). This theory is then paired with techniques to support participants in understanding the stages of their writing process and how to best hone the skills for each stage. The workshop also centers a discussion of how each stage of the writing process is both powerful and vulnerable in unique ways (just as any seed of life growing up out of the earth is both powerful and vulnerable!). Refracted through principles of intersectional feminist theory, with a particular attention to the ecology of our writing process, we analyze how the systems of hierarchy we live inside have specific effects on each stage of the writing process—and yet, we can also learn to nurture and nourish where the fullness of our creative power resides.
2). The Labor Relations of Writing From Marginality: From Non Recognition to Recognition
Next, we investigate more the costs, challenges, and opportunities of writing your knowledge when you are writing from a marginalized subject position. We will contemplatively read writers who have important insights on how to represent oneself within raced, classed, and gendered power relations from within a range of academic and creative disciplines. Selected writers to engage are chosen based on the cohort's needs and areas of particular interest, but texts might include those by Virginia Woolf (British Literature), Barbara Christian (US Black Feminist Theory), Gloria Anzaldúa (Chicana Studies), Trinh T. Minh-ha (Postcolonial Studies), Adrienne Rich (Gender Studies and Jewish Cultural Studies), Ella Shohat (Arab-Jewish Studies), Patricia Monture-Angus (Mohawk), and Leila Ahmed (Muslim and Arab American Studies). The workshop also incorporates concepts from trauma theory, so that we can better name how it is that systems of violence create specific forms of embodied and psychological labor for people experiencing different forms of marginalization. As we name these power relations and track the labor relations within them, we then consider what it means to write toward the communities that give us life. We take seriously for whom we are ultimately writing, asking how being intentional about the relationality of writing offers us healing and creative power.
3). Healing Your Creativity, Finding Sustainable Fuel
This final workshop is where participants develop their own working theory of their own creative process as applied to their writing. We discuss in this workshop how many of us are working from a place of exhaustion and depletion (because of the strain of these systems on our bodies and spirits and the earth itself), and that nourishing our creative practice as embedded in our study, writing, and learning is an act of sacred resistance. We will return to many of the concepts we worked with in the Introduction to Writing Wellness and the first two Special Topics Workshops, but will apply our learning to what it might mean to heal our creativity and in doing so find our sustainable, renewable fuel. Participants articulate in this last workshop a Healing Creativity Manifesto for themselves.
What to Bring:
Please bring pen and paper, as we will do short writing exercises as part of the workshops.
Who These Workshops are For:
Workshops are tailored for groups of graduate students, scholars, high school students, teachers, and anyone committed to creating a more meaningful, joyful writing practice. They are capped at 20 participants. Please note that while all identities will benefit from the workshops and all are enthusiastically welcomed, the methods and materials employed do center and provide recognition to the knowledge and experiences of women and people of color. A significant aspect of these workshops is to think and feel our way through how systems of oppression and hierarchy impact writing and knowledge-making processes. While these workshops are not therapy, and draw on a robust lineage of scholarly theory, we do use a therapeutic process that honors how we feel within these systems as part of our knowledge.