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Marcelle Haddix to Examine Healing Power of Writing Feb. 17

Professor will discuss writing practices of urban youth within, beyond school contexts

Feb 14, 2017 — Article by: Rob Enslin

Photo of Marcelle Haddix

Marcelle Haddix

The healing power of writing is the subject of an upcoming “Brown Bag” event, co-sponsored by the Humanities Center and the Contemplative Collaborative.   

Marcelle Haddix, Dean’s Associate Professor and chair of the Reading & Language Arts (RLA) Department in the School of Education (SOE), will discuss “Writing Our Lives as a Space of Healing in Troubling Times” on Friday, Feb. 17, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in 123 Sims Hall.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Humanities Center at 315.443.7192.

Additional support comes from the SOE; RLA; Falk College; Hendricks Chapel; and the Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric and Composition in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Vivian May, director of the Humanities Center and professor of women’s and gender studies in A&S, says the event will focus on Haddix’s leadership of Writing Our Lives, an SOE project encouraging the writing practices of urban youth within and beyond school contexts.

“Marcelle will explore how local youth in grades 6-12 are partnering with teachers, parents and professional writers to cultivate spaces for authentic writing practices,” she says. “Her project is using the literary arts—writing, poetry, storytelling, journaling, songwriting—to help students get their voices back, one word at a time.”

Photo of students at the Writing Our Lives conference

Students participating at a Writing Our Lives conference.

Since its inception in 2009, Writing Our Lives has benefitted hundreds of local students and mentors, representing a diverse mix of race, class, gender, sexuality and religion. This is done through a variety of hands-on classes and workshops, as well as an annual conference.

“Young people deal with a tremendous amount of violence and trauma in their everyday lives,” says Haddix, who chairs the Reading & Language Arts Center in the SOE and is affiliated with The Renée Crown University Honors Program, the Women’s and Gender Studies Department and the Democratizing Knowledge Project. “Schools and communities must be prepared to help students process these lived realities. Writing is one way that students can give voice to their experiences and cultivate healing spaces.”

Haddix’s presentation is the first in a two-part series related to local students. On Friday, April 14, Joshua Felver, assistant professor of psychology in A&S, will present “School-Based Mindfulness Interventions for At-Risk Youth” at 12:30 p.m. in 123 Sims Hall.  

Patrick W. Berry, assistant professor of writing and rhetoric, says the purpose of the series—and the Contemplative Collaborative, in general—is to foster compassion and connection. “Emerging research suggests that school-based mindfulness practices improve academic and social-emotional outcomes, offering exciting directions for addressing the needs of at-risk youth,” he explains.

The Contemplative Collaborative, based in Hendricks Chapel, supports students, faculty and staff interested in mindfulness and contemplative practices that embody engaged learning, a mindful academy and compassionate society. The initiative also facilitates related teaching strategies, scholarly research and discourse surrounding such work.

Located in the Tolley Humanities Building, the Humanities Center cultivates diverse forms of humanities scholarship, sponsors a range of dynamic programming and partnerships, highlights the humanities as a public good, and underscores the relevance of the humanities for addressing enduring questions and pressing social issues.

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Rob Enslin