Like Letters in Running Water: A Mythopoetics of Curriculum, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Like Letters in Running Water

A Mythopoetics of Curriculum, 1st Edition

By Mary Aswell Doll


274 pages

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Paperback: 9780805829853
pub: 2000-08-01
Hardback: 9780805829846
pub: 2000-07-01
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eBook (VitalSource) : 9781410605450
pub: 2000-07-01
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Like Letters in Running Water explores ways in which fiction (prose, drama, poetry, myth, fairytale) yields transformative insights for educational theory and practice. Through a series of intensely original, powerful essays drawing on curriculum theory, literary analysis, psychology, and feminist theory and practice, Doll seeks to confront a commonly held bias that reading literary fictions is "mere" entertainment (not a learning experience). She suggests that fiction has immense teaching power because it connects readers with their alliances within themselves and this connection attends to social, outer issues addressed by traditional pedagogies with greater, deeper awareness. Her elaboration in this book of the concept of currere--the lived experience of curriculum--through literature, drama, and myth is a major contribution to the field of curriculum theory.


"In my opinion Mary Doll is reading and cleverly interpreting some of the most exciting writers in the fields of curriculum theory, literacy criticism, and psychology/psychoanalysis. Her application of these theorists and writers is uniquely hers, and it is refreshing and insightful….While I know of others in curriculum whose work draws heavily from literature…I have seen nothing that combines those fields in the very personal and mythopoetic way that Dr. Doll does….What distinguishes her work is the explicit and integral blending of the stories from literature with the stories from teaching. Each is essential to the other, a way of being and living rather than a tool for describing….I loved this book….This writing is luscious, palpable, edible, audible, and imminently useful. Reader, prepare to change your life."

Susan H. Edgerton

Western Michigan University

"This book is fascinating. It is gently unruly as Doll weaves together myth and other fictions, curriculum, pedagogy, spirituality, and autobiography. Somehow it works, but it is not with tidy conclusions, which, I believe, is just the point. Her scholarship is an eclectic, interdisciplinary blend of really fine literature (that is inclusive across history, culture, genre, race…), criticism, and curriculum theorizing. It pushes readers into new directions, new ways of thinking about the intersections of the above….I can think of no other writers whose way of thinking about these issues matches Doll's creative intelligence and really superb writing….who take readers on the path Doll proposes….who combines what she does in terms of domains of knowing, or who uses the same method of taking readers through memory, dream, and culture, at the same time attempting to connect readers back and down into their own depth."

Delese Wear


"Penetrating and insightful….One of the most original pieces of writing in the field of curriculum that I have read in years; I read it in one sitting never once putting it down….[Doll] makes a major contrilbution to our understanding of pedagogy as she redefines the work of the 'curricularist' as one who must 'tap the current within'….Her 'forefronting of fiction's metaphors as ways of seeing educational ideas' allows her to transform the ways we think and experience literature and to unfold new truths about how we might envision and practice teaching….The work is consumately crafted, full of feeling, and intensely personal-- Doll plays effortlessly as storyteller, poet, writing teacher, and social commentator rolled into one. In an outspoken, witty, provocative, and earthy autobiographical voice, she captures her passion, wisdom, and experience and reveals her intimate thoughts about childhood, mothers and daughters, dreams, patriarchy, loyalty, repression, guilt, commitment, and betrayal. This is a book for feminists to take delight in. It is also a crucial book for curriculum theorists, teacher educators, teachers, and graduate students"

Ann V. Dean

State University of New York, College at New Paltz

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface: Yin and Yang. Introduction: Fiction as Food. Part I: Like Letters Carved in Rock. The Character of Wood or Brick. Cold Eyes, Steel Bits, and Metal Ovens: Havens of Hate. Bluebeard's Cellar: A Native Son's Underworld. "All Pulp Removed": Sexual Repression's Revenge. Part II: Like Letters Written in Sand. Good Girls/Bad Girls. The Glass Coffin. The P(r)ose of Clothes. Light Daughter/Dark Goddess. Part III: Like Letters Written in Running Water. The Suchness of Suffering. Circles, Loops, and the Wheel of Comedy. Spider Woman. Vegetative Fantasy and the Greening of Imagination.

About the Series

Studies in Curriculum Theory Series

In this age of multimedia information overload, scholars and students may not be able to keep up with the proliferation of different topical, trendy book series in the field of curriculum theory. It will be a relief to know that one publisher offers a balanced, solid, forward-looking series devoted to significant and enduring scholarship, as opposed to a narrow range of topics or a single approach or point of view. This series is conceived as the series busy scholars and students can trust and depend on to deliver important scholarship in the various "discourses" that comprise the increasingly complex field of curriculum theory.

The range of the series is both broad (all of curriculum theory) and limited (only important, lasting scholarship) – including but not confined to historical, philosophical, critical, multicultural, feminist, comparative, international, aesthetic, and spiritual topics and approaches. Books in this series are intended for scholars and for students at the doctoral and, in some cases, master's levels.

Persons interested in submitting book proposals or in serving as reviewers for this series are invited to contact

Professor William F. Pinar

Canada Research Chair
University of British Columbia

Faculty of Education

Department of Curriculum Studies

2125 Main Mall

Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4



Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Curricula