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How Stories Heal

Writing our Way to Meaning and Wholeness in the Academy


Robert J. Nash and Sydnee Viray

It is time for academics to embrace the fact that nothing is more appealing to readers – especially to our students – than personal stories with meaning-making implications that can touch all lives. No matter the age or stage in life, the personal or collective identity, everyone deals with meaning-making issues that challenge them – and others – throughout their lifetimes. And everyone we know finds that when encouraged to write their stories in the academy, they find meaning, wholeness, and healing.
How Stories Heal illustrates the value of personal narrative writing. Referring to this type of writing as the «turn to the subjective I» or to «me-search research», this is a book about Scholarly Personal Narrative (SPN) writing, actually written in an SPN style. This book will satisfy a huge need in higher education and scholarship, particularly for students who are writing undergraduate and graduate theses and doctoral dissertations; and also for junior and senior faculty who are looking to construct alternative forms of scholarship for publication.
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First, I wish to thank Sydnee Viray, my talented and fearless SPN co-author and superb intellectual ironist, for once more taking on such a formidable book-writing project with me. You are truly an SPN exemplar of the highest order as well as an invaluable personal support for a later-life professor like myself.

Second, I am indebted to those writers who contributed pieces to this book. This includes (in alphabetical order) Wind Paz-Amor, Jarett Chizick, Madelyn Nash, and Jen Prue. Thank you each for your willingness to write from both your heart and your head.

Third, I am professionally grateful to the following colleagues at the University of Vermont for their willingness to support a new type of scholarly methodology and, also, to serve on a number of SPN comps, thesis, and dissertation committees. I list these colleagues in alphabetical order: Judith Aiken, Penny Bishop, DeMethra L. Bradley, Holly-Lynn Busier, Judith Cohen, Deb Hunter, Christopher Koliba, Colleen MacKinnon, Wolfgang Mieder, Jen Prue, Charles Rathbone, Cynthia Reyes, Jill Tarule, Shelley Vermilya, Stuart Whitney, and, of course, the Dean of the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont, Fayneese Miller. I also want to thank Richard Greggory Johnson III, a professor at the University of San Francisco, for his undying loyalty and encouragement.

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