Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Resources: Writing for Social Change

Stonecoast Writing for Social Change Project: Resources

1. Readings on the importance of writing, reading and listening to stories for empowerment and healing

Bender, Karen E. “The Accidental Writer,” The New York Times, January 25, 2013.

Burana, Lily. “The Quiet after the Barrage,” in Modern Love, The New York Times, Sunday November 14, 2010.

DeSalvo, Louise. Writing as a Way of Healing. Boston,  Beacon Press, 1999.

Feiler, Bruce. “The Stories that Bind Us,” The New York Times, March 15, 2013.

Johnson, Alexandra. Leaving a Trace: The Art of Transforming a Life into Stories. Boston, Little Brown , 2001..

MacCurdy, Marian Mesrobian, “From Trauma to Writing: A Theoretical Model for Practical Use,” in Writing and Healing, Edited by Charles M. Anderson and Marian M. MacCurdy, pgs 158-200.

Paul, Annie Murphy. “Your Brain on Fiction,” The New York Times, March 17, 2012.

Pennebaker, James W. Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions. New York, Quilford Press, 1997.

Schneider, Pat.  Writing Alone and with Others. New York, Oxford UP, 2003.


2. Readings on trauma theory, craft and the importance of remembering 

Anderson, Charles M., Marian M. MacCurdy, ed. Writing and Healing. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 2000.

Birkert, Sven. The Art of Time in Memoir. St. Paul: Graywolf, 2011 (chapter on “trauma and memory,” pp. 145-188)

Barrington, Judith.  Writing the Memoir. Portland: Eighth Mountain Press, 2002.

Baxter, Charles, ed. The Business of Memory: The Art of Remembering in an Age of Forgettting. St. Paul: Graywolf Press, 1999.

Brison, Susan J. Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of the Self. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002.

Capps, Ron. Writing War: A Guide to Telling Your Own Story. Washington: The Veterans Writing Project, 2011.

Caruth, Cathy Ed. Trauma: Explorations in Memory.  Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1995.

Elbow, Peter. Writing Without Teachers. New York: Oxford UP, 1973.

Flaherty, Alice W. The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block and the Creative Brain. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.

Hampl, Patricia.  I Could Tell you Stories. N.Y.: W.W. Norton, 1990, “Memory and Imagination”,  pgs. 21 – 37.

Herman, Judith. Trauma and Recovery. N.Y: Basic Books, 1992.

MacCurdy, Marian Mesrobian. The Mind’s Eye: Image and Memory in Writing about Trauma. Amherst:  U of Massachusetts P, 2007.

Orr, Gregory. Poetry and Survival. Athens: U of Georgia Press, 2002.

Pennebaker, James W. and Sexton, Janel D. “Forming a Story: The Health benefits of Narrative” in Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 55(10), 1243-1254 (1999) (for easy access PDF see Pennebaker’s website).

Pennebaker, James W. and Sexton, Janel D. “The Healing Powers of Expressive Writing,” in The  Psychology of Creative Writing. Kaufmann, Scott Barry and Kaufmann, James C. ed. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Schwab, Gabriele. “Writing Against Memory and Forgetting.” Literature and Medicine 25 (2006): 95-121.

Silverman, Sue Willams.  Fearless Confessions. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2009.

Stern, Jessica. Denial: A Memoir of Terror. New York: Ecco-Harper-Collins, 2010.

Walker,Carolyn  “On Writing through the Hard Place,” AWP, February 2005.

Weingarten, Kaethe. Common Shock: Witnessing Violence Everyday, How we are Harmed, How we can Heal. New York: Dutton-Penguin, 2003.

Yoder,Carolyn.  The Little Book of Trauma Healing. Intercourse,PA: Good Books, 2005.


3. Creative works with trauma themes

Allison, Dorothy. Bastard out of North Carolina. New York: Plume Penguin, 1992.           

Baldwin, James,“Sonny’s Blues” in Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Nonfiction. Williford, Lex & Martone, Michael, Eds. New York: A Touchstone Book, 2007.

Beard, Jo Ann “The Fourth State of Matter” in Boy’s of my Youth. 1998. Boston: Back-Bay-Little Brown, 1998.

Casey, Nell, Editor. Unholy Ghost: Writer’s on Depression. New York: Harper Collins, 2001.

Didion, Joan. The Year of Magical Thinking. New York: Vintage-Knopf, 2007.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative on the Life of Frederick Douglass, An Americen Slave Written by Himself. 1845. New York: Barnes and Noble, 2003.

Fremont, Helen. After Long Silence. 1999. New York: Dell-Random House, 2000.

Gilmore, Mikal. Shot in the Heart. 1994. New York: Anchor-Doubleday, 1995.

Grealy, Lucy. Autobiography of a Face. 1994. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. New York: Harper Perennial. 1995.

Hall, Meredith. Without a Map: A Memoir. Boston, Beacon,2007. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006.

Hoffman, Richard. Half the House: A Memoir. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1995. Moorhead: New Rivers Press, 2005.

Jentz, Terri. Strange Piece of Paradise: A Return to the American West to Investigate My Attempted Murder – and Solve the Riddle of Myself. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006.

McCarriston, Linda. Eva Mary. Chicago: Another Chicago Press, 1991. 

Moore, Judith. Fat Girl: A True Story. 2005. New York: Plume-Penguin, 2006. 

Moore, Lorrie.  “People like that are the only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Oink” in Birds of America. New York: Picador USA, 1998.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved: A Novel. New York: Knopf, 1987.

Orr, Gregory. The Blessing. San Francisco: Council Oak Books, 2002.

Packer, Z.Z.  Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. New York: Riverhead Books, 2003.

Patrick, William B. We Didn’t Come Here for This: A Memoir in Poetry. Rochester: BOA Editions, 1999.

Rhett, Kathryn, Ed. Survival Stories: Memoirs of Crisis. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

Ross, Tracy. The Source of All Things: A Memoir. New York: Free P-Simon& Schuster, 2011.

Schrand, Brandon R.  “Comparative History” in The Book of Dads . edited by Ben George

Turner, Brian. Here, Bullet. Farmington, Maine: Alice James Books, 2005.

Wickersham, Joan. The Suicide Index: Putting my Father’s Death in Order. Orlando: Harcourt, 2008.

Williams, Terry Tempest. Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. 1991. New York: Random House, 1992.


4. Readings on writing fiction of social justice 

Achebe, Chinua interview with Chris Searle in Writing Across Worlds: Contemporary writers talk. Ed. Susheila Nasta. London: Routledge, 2004.

Adiche, Chimamanda Ngozi. TED talk on “The danger of a single story.” 2009.

 Allende, Isabel. “Writing As an Act of Hope” in Paths of Resistance: the Art and Craft of the Political Novel. Ed William Zinsser. Boston: Houghlin Mifflin, 1989. 40-63.

Austin, Benjamin. “The Pen or the Gun: Zakes Mda and the post-apartheid novel” in Harper’s Magazine Feb. 2005: 85-89.

Brown, Rosellen, Daugherty, Tracy, and Meeropol, Ellen, “Writing Political Fiction,” in The Writer’s Chronicle, March/April 2013

Bull, Joeffrey S. “What about a problem that doesn’t have a solution? Stone’s A Flag for Sunrise, DeLillo’s Mao II, and the Politics of Political Fiction” in Critique 40(3) 1999. 215-241

Colby, Tanner. “Can a White Guy like Michael Chabon Write About Black Characters?", September 19, 2012.

Des Pres, Terrence. Writing into the World: Essays, 1973-1987. New York: Viking, 1991.

Doctorow, E.L. “Politics and the Mode of Fiction: A Conversation with E.L. Doctorow.” Interview with Richard Trenner. First Person Singular: Writers on their Craft. Ed. Joyce Carol Oates. Princeton: Ontario Review Press, 1983. 237-245.

Espada, Martín. “Foreword.” Poetry Like Bread: Poets of the Political Imagination. Ed. Martín Espada. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 1994. 16-20.

Galeano, Eduardo. We Say No: Chronicles 1963-1991. New York: W.W. Norton, 1992.

Gardner, John. Interview with David Stanton. “John Gardner at Bread Loaf: His Last Interview.” August 1982.

hooks, bell. “Narratives of Struggle.” Critical Fictions: The Politics of Imaginative Writing. Ed. Philomena Mariani. Seattle: Bay Press, 1991. 53-61.

Johnson, Sarah Anne. “An Interview with Edwidge Danticat.” The Writer’s Chronicle March/April 2005: 4-10.

Johnston, Sibyl. Where the Stories Come From. New York: Addison-Wesley Longman, 2002.

Kingsolver, Barbara. “The Bellwether Prize for Fiction: in Support of a Literature of Social Change.”

Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.

Nasta, Susheila, Ed., Writing Across Worlds: Contemporary writers talk. London: Routledge, 2004.

Oates, Joyce Carol, Ed., First Person Singular: Writers on their Craft. Princeton: Ontario Review Press, 1983

Orwell, George, “Why I Write,” in Gangrel, Summer, 1946

Piercy, Marge. “Active in Time and History.” In Paths of Resistance: the Art and Craft of the Political Novel. Ed William Zinsser. Boston: Houghlin Mifflin, 1989. 89-123.

Quigley, Stephen J. “The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation of Identity in Fiction: A Writer’s Choices in Cross-Cultural Writing,” in The Writers Chronicle, March/April 2011.

Stone, Robert. “We Are Not Excused.” In Paths of Resistance: the Art and Craft of the Political Novel. Ed William Zinsser. Boston: Houghlin Mifflin, 1989. 17-37.

Whalen-Bridge, John. Political Fiction and the American Self. Urbana and Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Zinsser, William. “Introduction.” In Paths of Resistance: the Art and Craft of the Political Novel. Ed William Zinsser. Boston: Houghlin Mifflin, 1989. 1-16.


5. Fiction with social justice themes

 Adiche, Chimamanda Ngozi. Half a Yellow Sun. New York: Knopf. 2006.

Anam, Tahmima. A Golden Age. New York: Harper. 2008.

Benaron, Naomi. Running the Rift. Chapel Hill: Algonquin. 2012.

Brown, Rosellen. Half a Heart. New York: Picador. 2001.

Butler, Octavia E. Kindred. Boston: Beacon Press, 1979.

Coetzee, J.M.  Disgrace. New York: Penguin Books, 1999.

Danticat, Edwidge. The Dew Breaker. New York: Knopf. 2004.

Durrow, Heidi. The Girl Who Fell from the Sky. Chapel Hill: Algonquin. 2011

Englander, Nathan. The Ministry of Special Cases. New York: Vintage Books, 2008.

Hogan, Linda. Solar Storms. New York: Scribner. 1997.

Hulme, Keri. The Bone People. New York: Penguin, 1986.

Jordan, Hillary. Mudbound. Chapel Hill: Algonquin. 2009.

Kingsolver, Barbara. Poisonwood Bible. New York: HarperCollins, 1998.

Lehane, Dennis. The Given Day. New York: William Morrow. 2008.

Lessing, Doris. The Four Gated City. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.

Marra, Anthony. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. New York: Hogarth, 2013.

Marshall, Paule. The Chosen Place; The Timeless People. New York: Vintage. 1984.

Mosher, Howard Frank. A Stranger in the Kingdom. New York: Dell Publishing, 1989.

O’Brien, Tim. Going After Cacciato. New York: Penguin. 1986.

Pancake, Ann. Strange as this Weather Has Been. Washington, D.C.: Shoemaker and Hoard. 2007.

Shamsie, Kamila. Burnt Shadows. London: Bloomsbury. 2009.

Senna, Danzy. Caucasia. New York: Riverhead. 1999.

Urrea, Luis Alberto. Into the Beautiful North. Little Brown. 2009.

Wilenz, Amy. Martyrs Crossing. New York: Simon and Schuster. 2001.