Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jessica Restaino

Committee Member

James Nash

Committee Member

Emily Isaacs


I will argue that as the young women in this study approached graduation from high school, writing became a venue to write their identities in a safe space free from the expectations of others. The writing included in this study will show that early-adolescent identities, written from a senior-year perspective, value silence and passivity over confidence and voice. They were eager to use the written space provided to them in an elective writing course to script and negotiate their contradictory identities and ultimately transition into a more informed sense of self. Through personal writing completed in and out of school, each young woman in this study found a method of resistance to rules the culture placed on her, and in doing so, established her place on the continuum between silence and voice. Once they tried on identities in writing, many longed to connect their written identities with other women. The feedback I gave them on these personal narratives in Art of Writing created a teacher identity that validated and supported them, and so they began to seek connection with me. This bridged my written identity and theirs and challenged the traditional roles of teacher and student. While I perceived this as a meaningful relationship established within the safety of a writing classroom, other language arts teachers saw it as dangerous. In fact, many colleagues leave personal writing out of language arts all together, and so for most Accrede Regina students, Art of Writing is the first class where students at my school can use writing to shape their identities. Despite the tension this method of teaching writing creates with colleagues and the challenges I experienced as a teacher, I argue that it is valuable, even necessary, to offer teenage women the chance to write their identities in personal narrative as they transition into adulthood.

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