Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Writing as threshold to spirit: A phenomenological study of the experience of writing of twelve college women
by Diltz, Judith, Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2006, 226; 3248192
Abstract (Summary)

This phenomenological study explores the experiences of writing of twelve women who self-select to write. The research focuses in particular on whether the women find writing to have spiritual dimensions. The co-researchers are Caucasian women ages 19 to 24 with ties to a two-year liberal arts college in the Midwest. The women employ various genres in their writing such as the personal journal, poetry, fiction, drama, blog, journalistic pieces and computer fantasy games. Utilizing both theistic and humanistic definitions of spirituality as well as an understanding of young adult spiritual maturation from the research of Sharon Duloz Parks, the study reports that the women overtly and implicitly disclose spiritual dimensions in their experience of writing.

Several themes emerge as the women reported on their experiences of writing: Writing provides instances of grace, awe, and gratitude; it is important for their meaning-making and for coming to authenticity. Via writing, the co-researchers explore their own beliefs and feelings; they also come to understand how life experiences shape them or they deconstruct experiences to find new meaning or discover new responses to situations. For these women their writing is a place of privacy, possibility, and experimentation, an imaginary domain where they can express themselves without worry of external judgment. These women also use writing to heal disruptions in relationships with self, with others, or to escape painful experiences. Many find transcendence in writing by connecting to their God, or to clarity, or to a zone-like place where they find their writing to be particularly effective. While some use writing as their voice to society, far more energy among this group is directed inward for purposes of self-understanding.

Passionate about their personal writing, half of the women are critical of their experience of academic writing, desiring more creativity and flexibility when writing as part of formal education. The women also appreciate the physical aspects of writing: as a kinesthetic release of energy, as evidence of their existence, or a means to preserve or to symbolically toss away negative aspects of their experience.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sheerin, Mary
Commitee:
School: Union Institute and University
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 68/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Language arts, Womens studies, Rhetoric, Composition
Keywords: College women, Spirit, Writing
Publication Number: 3248192
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