1st Edition

Death Education in the Writing Classroom

By Jeffrey Berman Copyright 2012
    254 Pages
    by Routledge

    254 Pages
    by Routledge

    Death is often encountered in English courses—Hamlet’s death, celebrity death, death from the terrorist attacks on 9/11—but students rarely have the opportunity to write about their own experiences with death. In Death Education in the Writing Classroom, Jeffrey Berman shows how college students can write safely about dying, death, and bereavement. The book is based on an undergraduate course on love and loss that Berman taught at the University at Albany in 2008. Part 1, “Diaries,” is organized around Berman’s diary entries written immediately after each class. These entries provide a week-by-week glimpse of class discussions, highlighting his students’ writings and their developing bonds with classmates and teacher. Part 2, "Breakthroughs," focuses on several students’ important educational and psychological discoveries in their understanding of love and loss. The student writings touch on many aspects of death education, including disenfranchised grief. The book explores how students write about not only mourning and loss but also depression, cutting, and abortion—topics that occupy the ambiguous border of death-in-life.

    Death Education in the Writing Classroom is the first book to demonstrate how love and loss can be taught in a college writing class—and the first to describe the week-by-week changes in students’ cognitive and affective responses to death. This interdisciplinary book will be of interest to writing teachers, students, clinicians, and bereavement counselors.


     INTRODUCTION: “Life Lessons”

    PART 1: Diaries

    CHAPTER 1—Week One
    “Nervous Undergraduates Avoiding Eye Contact”

    CHAPTER 2—Week Two
    “Hearing It Made His Death More Real”

    CHAPTER 3—Week Three
    “She Helped Me Say What I Could Not Say Myself”

    CHAPTER 4—Week Four
    “There’s Too Much Covering Up of Grief in America”

    CHAPTER 5—Week Five
    “We’re Going to Die”

    CHAPTER 6—Week Six
    “Thinking Like a Writer”

    CHAPTER 7—Week Seven
    “I’m Sorry, I Understand”

    CHAPTER 8—Week Eight
    “Sometimes I Feel Like an Outsider in This Class”

    CHAPTER 9—Week Nine
    “I Felt As If I Were Reliving that Day”

    CHAPTER 10—Week Ten
    “There Is No Preparation for a Sight of Death”

    CHAPTER 11—Week Eleven
    “I Love You Too Much”

    CHAPTER 12—Week Twelve
    “We’re Taking Risks in a Safe Place”

    CHAPTER 13—Week Thirteen
    “Write As If You Were Dying”

    CHAPTER 14—Week Fourteen
    “I Used to Cry in the Middle of the Night and Contemplate Suicide”

    CHAPTER 15—Week Fifteen
    “I Am Not Alone in This Battle”

    PART 2: Breakthroughs

    CHAPTER 16—Chipo
    “I Have to Turn My Shattered Reality into a Livable Dream”

    CHAPTER 17—Lia
    “Instead of Minimizing My Struggles, I Wrote about Them”

    CHAPTER 18—Shannon
    “It’s Hard for Me to Express Emotion”

    CHAPTER 19—Faith
    “If I Could Not Write, I Would Not Survive”

    CHAPTER 20—Anonymous
    “I Will Always Remember My Unborn Baby”

    Conclusion: Reading Dying to Teach
     Appendix: Syllabus for English 450: Writing about Love and Loss
     Student Writers




    Berman, Jeffrey