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Literacies, Lies, and Silences

Girls Writing Lives in the Classroom


Heather E. Bruce

Although written language historically has relegated women to the silence of the margins, writing can place women’s voices among those that would be heard. Scholars in composition and rhetoric have done little since Janet Emig’s (1971) influential study of twelfth-grade writers to look at adolescent women’s specific situations and experiences vis-à-vis writing. This ethnographically designed book reinterprets Emig’s findings through the lens of Judith Butler’s performance theory and reports on three years of participant observation examining the writing of students enrolled in women’s studies at Aspen Grove High School, a suburban school in the Intermountain West region of the United States. Writing enhances the personal, intellectual, and political development of the students enrolled in the class. Students, female and male, find writing to be a critical part of a process that contributes significantly to self- and social transformation.