Bibliography, Writing Prompts

Annotated Bib: “Let Me Tell You a Story”

Glitter and Trauma
Bonus writing prompt: Write a story about this picture. | Glitter and Trauma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week’s Annotated Bibliography entry comes from Rachel Spear, who argues that students may act as witnesses to trauma as enacted in trauma stories. You may view the full text here.

Annotated Bib Entry

Spear, Rachel N. “Let Me Tell You A Story.” Pedagogy 14.1 (2014): 53-79. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.

In this article, Rachel Spear argues that teaching trauma narratives should not focus only on the trauma and the students’ response to the trauma. Instead, she argues that teaching trauma narratives can have a transformational effect on students as well as the teacher and the writer of the trauma narrative. Spear uses what she refers to as a “wounded healer pedagogy” which incorporates the healing of all participants. She also outlines a Writing as Healing course that she created to address these issues in the classroom.

Spear argues against the theories of trauma scholars like Shoshana Felman and Julie Rak whose sole consideration in teaching trauma narratives is to examine students’ reactions and silences after reading about trauma. She believes these scholars miss out on the opportunity to help students apply their learning to a larger framework beyond the classroom.


Traumatic memories focus on fragments rather than narratives. Therefore, memories are stored beyond an individual’s consciousness, and in fragments, and the act of trauma itself is often, if not always, associated with silencing, resulting in a lack of language and even a lack of narrative structure. All of these factors complicate the trauma narrative—as they affect the purposes and processes related to creating the texts. Because of this, trauma narratives cannot be read or taught in the same manner as other nonfiction or even fiction, as events that precede the text are extraordinary, not because they occur rarely, but rather because they overwhelm the ordinary human adaptations to life” (62).


Have you ever read a real-life trauma story and felt like you had become a witness to the trauma? If so, how did that impact you as a reader? And what impact do you think your experience might have on the author of the story? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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