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Composing a Culture

Composing a Culture

Inside a Summer Writing Program with High School Teachers

By Bonnie S Sunstein
Foreword by Maxine Greene

A summer writing program for teachers lasts only a few weeks, but it is an important event, sometimes a turning point in a teacher's career. In Composing a Culture, Sunstein "reads" one program for teachers and writes portraits of three high school teachers who attend: Therese Deni, Joyce Choate, and Dorothy Spofford. Between these chapters, Sunstein also creates interests--shorter landscapes of other participants and events.

Often, teachers label a summer experience as "transformation." Drawing from anthropology, folklore, composition theory, educational philosophy, psychology, and women's studies,...

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A summer writing program for teachers lasts only a few weeks, but it is an important event, sometimes a turning point in a teacher's career. In Composing a Culture, Sunstein "reads" one program for teachers and writes portraits of three high school teachers who attend: Therese Deni, Joyce Choate, and Dorothy Spofford. Between these chapters, Sunstein also creates interests--shorter landscapes of other participants and events.

Often, teachers label a summer experience as "transformation." Drawing from anthropology, folklore, composition theory, educational philosophy, psychology, and women's studies, Sunstein details the informal conversations, events, and personal stories in which the seeds of their changes take root.

As a longtime teacher herself, Sunstein looks into a familiar place and sees an unfamiliar irony: the teacher as student, away from her institution in time and space, participating in an event deliberately designed to be different from school. She turns away from the classroom in order to understand it better. She documents what it is to be a teacher.

In Composing a Culture, teachers "read" their experience, write for themselves, and plan for their students in a culture quite different from school. And as they do it, they re-think the culture of school.

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Contents

Contents:
Preface:
"A Little Bit of a Cult" I. Intertext: Confessions of a Participant-Observer 1. Distributed Selves and a Divided Front II. Intertext: Caring Away from Home: Poetic Sanctuary 2. Therese Deni: Finding Authority on the Inside III. Intertext: Getting the Words Second Hand: Deaf People Can Do Everything--Except Hear 3. Dorothy Spofford: Distance, Resistance, and Response IV. Intertext: To Really Cheer: Questioning Our Assumptions 4. Joyce Choate: The Matter of Head Watching V. Intertext: Of Fathers, Sons, and Special Education: Making Meaning Is the Test 5. Back to School: Summer Revisions