1st Edition

Transformative Learning through Creative Life Writing Exploring the self in the learning process

By Celia Hunt Copyright 2013
    216 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    216 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Arising from a research project conducted over two years, Transformative Learning through Creative Life Writing examines the effects of fictional autobiography on adult learners’ sense of self. Starting from a teaching and learning perspective, Hunt draws together ideas from psychodynamic psychotherapy, literary and learning theory, and work in the cognitive and neurosciences of the self and consciousness, to argue that creative life writing undertaken in a supportive learning environment, alongside opportunities for critical reflection, has the power to transform the way people think and learn. It does this by opening them up to a more embodied self-experience, which increases their awareness of the source of their thinking in bodily feeling and enables them to develop a more reflexive approach to learning.

    Hunt locates this work within recent developments in the influential field of transformative learning. She also identifies it as a form of therapeutic education arguing, contrary to those who say that this approach leads to a diminished sense of self, that it can help people to develop a stronger sense of agency, whether for writing or learning or relations with others. Topics covered include:


      • Creative writing as a tool for personal and professional development
      • The transformative benefits and challenges of creative writing as a therapeutic activity
      • The relationships between literary structures and the processes of thinking and feeling
      • The role of cognitive-emotional learning in adult education
      • Collaborative learning and the role of the group


    This book will interest teachers in adult, further and higher education who wish to use creative life writing as a tool for learning, as well as health care professionals seeking art-based techniques for use in their practice. It will also prove useful to academics interested in the relationship between education and psychotherapy, and in the theory and practice of transformative learning. Additionally, it will appeal to writers seeking a deeper understanding of the creative process.

    Introduction  1: Creative Life Writing for Personal and Professional Development  Part I – Stories of Transformative Change  2: Expanding the Psyche through the Learning Process  3: Finding a Stance as a Writer: Simon’s Story  4: Reconnecting with the Felt Body for Writing and Learning: Maria’s Story  5: Reconceptualising the Self in Time: Susanna’s Story  Part II – Understanding Mechanisms of Change in Transformative Learning  6: Reflexivity and the Psyche as a Dynamic System  7: Vicissitudes of the Dynamic Psyche and their Consequences for Learning and Creativity  Part III – Facilitating Transformative Change through Creative Life Writing  8: Developing Reflexivity through Creative Life Writing  9: Reflexivity and Group Process  10: Reflection and Reflexivity  Part IV – Implications for Adult Learning  11: Challenges of Transformative Learning through Creative Life Writing  12: Is Transformative Learning a Form of Therapeutic Education?  Conclusion  Appendix by Christine Cohen Park: The Cohen Park Exercises


    Celia Hunt is Emeritus Reader in Continuing Education (Creative Writing) at the University of Sussex, where she founded the pioneering MA Creative Writing and Personal Development. She was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy in 2004.

    'Through student case studies and broader observations, Hunt provides a fascinating exposition, analysis and interpretation of creative writing as a developmental and therapeutic tool. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wishes to develop a framework for understanding themselves and their practices in engaging others in transformative learning.' - Professor Mark Tennant, Studies in the Education of Adults