Narrative Possibilities

The Transformative Power of Writing, Story, and Poetry in Personal and Professional Development

Online – Athabasca University (Graduate) – Master of Arts–Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS 621)

A range of literature is now available on writing and its potential for contributing to our wellness and personal development, and even immunological research has been done to explore whether writing has physiological health benefits. A variety of writing-based wellness projects have also been established in Britain, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada which draw on the idea that literary art offers something for our personal and professional development.

Here you will explore the concept of self, disclosure, and looked at the possible drawbacks of writing for personal development. In the course students will be able to spend considerable time on their personal writing and gain a more in-depth understanding of what narrative (including poetry) has to offer the individual in both personal and professional settings. This includes looking at brain research on trauma and healing as well as evaluating the implications of teaching this type of writing in classrooms. How cultural narratives can inform allopathic medicine is another topic of exploration for this course, and while MAIS 616 students touched on a variety of problem-solving exercises, MAIS 621 will allow students, through critical thinking, to explore more fully their attachments to entrenched narratives.

The project at the end of MAIS 621 is substantial: five weeks are dedicated to its completion. A variety of ideas for projects/papers will be provided in this course guide to serve as an example of what might be possible; however, students will propose their own integrated projects which may include, but are not limited to, fiction, personal essay, journal writing, autobiography writing, and/or poetry.

To participate fully in MAIS 621, a student must be able to initiate and generate writing without specific prompts and be able to structure, revise, and polish written work before submitting it. In other words, a student must be able to write a poem, start a piece of fiction, and/or put together a coherent paper of quality without further instruction from your professor. Students must also have knowledge of the use of the arts in a variety of educational and therapeutic settings.

Important notice: The process of writing about self can bring up challenging emotional issues. Students are reminded that this course is not therapy and that they must participate within their own capabilities and limits. If a student feels that further support is needed, he or she may discuss with the course professor contacts for competent counsellors and/or psychologists. Neither the professor nor Athabasca University is responsible for any personal problems that should arise during the participation in this course.

Prerequisite: A bachelor’s degree

“Working with Reinekke has helped me reconnect with and really listen to my writing self. In her Master’s-level “Narrative Possibilities” course, Reinekke invites students to begin a regular journaling practice, take inspiration from a variety of writing prompts, experiment with different writing styles and techniques, and engage with carefully selected readings to deepen their understanding of the physical and psychological benefits of writing.

Reinekke’s focus on the scientific and theoretical basis of writing as a healing modality—including Lengelle and Meijers’ Model of Transformation through Writing—allowed me to see how I could use my writing practice to address anger, pain, and trauma in my life, move past places where I was “stuck,” and work toward forgiveness, healing, and closure.

Reinekke proved to be an encouraging and enthusiastic facilitator of this process, but her presence was never invasive. She provided just the level of feedback and guidance I needed to keep going—to “write on,” as she frequently said—and delve more deeply into my writing. In so doing, I discovered I could more easily process unresolved emotional issues, and I became more self-aware and more compassionate toward myself and others.

I have also rediscovered the joy in writing and have been inspired to look for magic and poetry in everyday life. Reinekke is a brilliant writer, poet, and mentor, and her courageous and generous nature is a gift to those she works with.”

Adrienne Munro, Writer & Editor in Canoe, British Columbia

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