Writing Lives: Partnering with the Community
English 315 11:20 – 12: 30 Days 2-4-6
with Mary Jane Berger, OSB
Classroom experiences can often become more academic than real. For years the academic world has been striving for ways to bring the community into the classroom. More recently, however, bringing the classroom to the community started teasing the minds of innovative educators. No model exists for such a plan, yet community agencies are eager to cooperate with advocates of community/classroom connections. One agency paving the way for others is Arlington Place of St. Joseph.
This special topics class will give writers the opportunity to write the stories of real people who have lived long and fascinating lives. Arlington Place has asked us to find students who would like to write the story of people's lives, that is, people who live in their Care/Retirement Center. Some of the residents at this care center have had intriguing lives, remembering many key moments of the Twentieth Century. Here’s the plan: students will investigate the world of care centers and retirement facilities in mid-central Minnesota, the state of Minnesota, and the greater American scene. Topics such as ageism, aging in place, growing old graciously, retirement opportunities, retirement agencies will inform class members prior to contact with the retirement agency. These topics and more will form a backdrop for interaction with senior citizens and also be grist for secondary research experiences. Once we meet the seniors, students and seniors together can search for topics of interest from the rich background of the senior. Therefore, the course is designed to allow students to become familiar with issues related to retirement facilities, aging, and writing biographical memoir, tinged with just enough research to make the writing publishable. Students will be expected to spend a certain number of contact hours with residents of Arlington Place, and will produce a booklet of collected writings and edited articles about St. Joseph, Arlington Place, its citizens.
Because of the unusual classroom setting, students interested in doing primary research, in writing for a specific agency, and in writing about a particular subject would be prime candidates for this class.
Texts: I Could Tell You Stories Materials: Writing Notebook (3-ring binder)
A Life Worth Living Computer disk
Tuesdays With Morrie
Inventing the Truth
GOALS for WRITING LIVES 2
• To write non-fiction using a combination of research and experience
• To learn to use effective interview techniques
• To be part of Service-Learning
• To establish a relationship with a Senior Citizen
• To cooperate with class members in order to publish a booklet of writing
• To lead and participate in discussions related to issues of aging
Following a Service-Learning commitment by participating in a partnership with Arlington Place in St. Joseph
By visiting a resident from Arlington Place at least 10 times during the semester
Logging the essential elements of each contact on the Public Portfolio for 315
Approaching research as a curious researcher
Gathering a notebook of stories, character traits, history, etc
Writing non-fiction articles by converting research data into essays
Writing a variety of papers such as personal reflections, essays, research-based essays,
case studies, letters, logs, note-taking, newspaper feature articles
Reading a fiction book to supplement the non-fiction experiences and activities
Discussing topics in order to learn
Participation and Attendance:
I require class attendance because we are operating as a community of writers collaborating on the production of joint publication of essays. If you must be absent, please let me know ahead of time, so I can plan accordingly. Work out a system with someone else in class, so that if you need to miss a class, your friend will pick up notes, handouts, assignments, and hand in your work. Should you miss more than three classes or one conference group during the semester, I will lower your course grade one full letter or more depending on the number of absences over the limit. Because I assume you will choose responsibly, I don’t excuse absences.
I just take roll at the beginning of every class and keep good records.
We will meet in small groups for a variety of activities. Attendance at these groups is mandatory. Sometimes you will be asked to make copies of your draft so others will be able to critique it ahead of time. When this occurs everyone is asked to write comments on the papers of classmates as well as to participate in oral critique.
Every class member will have the opportunity to prepare and to lead class discussions based upon research, reading, and written assignments. Participation is the only way to guarantee maximum learning. Deadlines matter. Therefore assume that all assignments are due at the beginning of the class period.
Reading List for Writing Lives 6
Beauvoir de, Simone. “The Coming of Age.” In Aging: Concepts and Controversies.
Moody, Harry R. Pine Forge Press, 2000. 420-22.
Callahan, Daniel. “Why We Must Set the Limits.” In Aging: Concepts and Controversies.
Moody, Harry R. Pine Forge Press, 2000. 45-52
Hampl, Patricia. I Could Tell You Stories. “Memory and Imagination.” Norton, 1999.
---. I Could Tell You Stories. “Red Sky in the Morning.” Norton, 1999. 15-20.
Moody, Harry R. “Does Creativity Decline With Old Age?” Aging: Concepts and
Controversies. Pine Forge Press, 2000. 379-80.
---. “Does Old Age Have Meaning?” Aging: Concepts and Controversies. Pine Forge Press,
---. “Is Retirement Obsolete?” Aging: Concepts and Controversies. Pine Forge Press, 2000.
---. “Should Age or Need Be the Basis for Entitlement?” Aging: Concepts and Controversies.
Pine Forge Press, 2000. 183.
---. “Should Families Provide for Their Own?” Aging: Concepts and Controversies. Pine
Forge Press, 2000. 65-67.
---. “Should Older People Be Protected From Bad Choices?” Aging: Concepts and
Controversies. Pine Forge Press, 2000. 95-99.
---. “Should People Have the Choice to End Their Lives?” Aging: Concepts and
Controversies. Pine Forge Press, 2000. 123-124.
---. “Should We Ration Health Care for Older People?” Aging: Concepts and Controversies.
Pine Forge Press, 2000. 33-34.
---. “What is the Future of Social Security?” Aging: Concepts and Controversies. Pine Forge
Press, 2000. 229-230.
---. “Why Do We Grow Old?” Aging: Concepts and Controversies. Pine Forge P, 2000. 183.
Peterson, Peter G. “Gray Dawn: Target Benefits on the Basis of Need.” In Aging: Concepts and
Controversies. Moody, Harry R. Pine Forge Press, 2000. 195.
Pipher, Mary. “Introduction.” Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our
Elders. Riverhead Books, 1999. 1-10.
Powell, Douglas H. “Does Aging Bring Wisdom?” In Aging: Concepts and Controversies.
Moody, Harry R. Pine Forge Press, 2000. 403-405.
Scott-Maxwell, Florida. “The Measure of My Days.” In Aging: Concepts and Controversies.
Moody, Harry R. Pine Forge Press, 2000. 429-30.
Stoller, Eleanor Palo and Rose Campbell Gibson. “Cultural Images of Old Age.” In Worlds of
Difference: Inequality in the Aging Experience. Pine Forge Press, 1994. 75-97.
Wetle, Terrie T. and Terry T. Fulmer. “Ethical Dilemmas in Elder Abuse.” In Aging: Concepts
and Controversies. Moody, Harry R. Pine Forge Press, 2000. 108-110.
Bibliography for Writing Lives 8
*Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays With Morrie. Doubleday, 1997.
Bartholomae, David and Anthony Petrosky. Reading the Lives of Others. Bedford/ St.
Carter, Jimmy. The Virtues of Aging. Ballantine, 1998.
Delany, Sarah L. and A. Elizabeth Delaney with Amy H. Hearth. Having Our Say. Dell
Gerard, Philip. Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life. Story
Hassler, Jon. Simon’s Night. Ballantine, 1979.
*Hampl, Patricia. I Could Tell You Stories. Norton, 1999.
Ilardo, Joseph A. As Parents Age: A Psychological and Practical Guide. VanderWyk &
Loucks, Cynthia. But This is My Mother!: The Plight of our Elders in American Nursing Homes.
VanderWyk & Burnham, 2000.
Martz, Sandra. When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple. Papier Mache` Press, 1987.
Moody, Harry R. Aging: Concepts and Controversies. Third edition. Thousand Oaks, CA:
Pine Forge Press, 2000.
Pipher, Mary. Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of our Elders. Riverhead
Remen, Rachel Naomi. Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal. Riverhead Books, 1996.
Reynolds, Rebecca A. Bring Me the Ocean. VanderWyk & Burnham, 1995.
Rosenbluth, Vera. Keeping Family Stories Alive: Discovering and Recording the Stories and
Reflections of a Lifetime. Second Edition. Hartley & Marks Pubs., 1997.
Schnettler, Mary Matthews. That Murray Girl. St. Cloud, MN: North Star Press, 1999.
Sennett, Dorothy, ed. Full Measure: Modern Short Stories on Aging. Graywolf Press, 1988.
---, ed. with Anne Czarniecki. Vital Signs: International Stories on Aging. Graywolf Press,
Stoller, Eleanor P. and Rose C. Gibson, eds. Worlds of Differences: Inequality in the Aging
Experience. Pine Forge Press, 1994.
Sose, Bonnie. Talk To Me. Character Builders, 1991.
Thomas, William H. Learning From Hannah. VanderWyk & Burnham, 1999.
*---. Life Worth Living. VanderWyk & Burnam, 1996.
*Zinsser, William. Inventing the Truth.