ERIC Number: EJ1126538
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Abstractor: As Provided
The Power of Life Histories: Moving Readers to Greater Acts of Empathy through Literature and Memoir
Lee, Valarie G.; Madden, Marjorie E.
Forum on Public Policy Online, v2016 n1 2016
This paper argues that narratives, specifically literature and memoir, offer a way to build empathy and understanding by moving readers to deeper levels of text interpretation and critique. The paper examines a new literacy framework, Life Histories, that uses talk, collaboration, writing, and performance to understand the complex relationships between character and cultural contexts, an understanding that leads to empathy. Life Histories are explored in three very different contexts: an international workshop in Guatemala, a fifth grade in Westminster, Maryland, and a literacy course at Rowan University. Qualitative naturalistic research is used to explore the ways that Life Histories worked in these three sites and can lead to greater empathy in readers. Qualitative data include student surveys, blogs, online postings, and transcripts from discussions, videotaped performances and life history scripts. This study argues for the power of talk about texts, collaborative writing, and performance to gain a deeper understanding of self and a deeper empathy for others.
Descriptors: Empathy, Personal Narratives, Qualitative Research, Student Surveys, Student Attitudes, Literary Criticism, Literacy, Cultural Context, Literary Devices, Writing (Composition), Workshops, Foreign Countries, Electronic Publishing, Grade 5, Literacy Education, College Students, Elementary School Students, Video Technology, Collaborative Writing, Computer Mediated Communication, Discussion (Teaching Technique), Literature, Seminars, Conferences (Gatherings)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Grade 5
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Guatemala; Maryland; New Jersey