Coming to terms : spiritual autobiography, constitutive rhetoric, and religious identity in the composition classroom.


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Building on current scholarship indicating the need for students' spiritual identities to be welcomed in the academy, this argument proposes using the reading and writing of spiritual autobiography to prompt students' exploration of their spiritual commitments in the composition classroom. The emerging adult college student tends to be wary of religious labels, but through the constitutive function of spiritual autobiography, students can develop authorial ethos and construct religious language through the articulation of their spiritual experiences. The constitutive strategies of Kathleen Norris's "necessary other" authorial self in The Cloister Walk and Anne Lamott's language of generality in Traveling Mercies can provide students with writing strategies for their own compositions. A first-year writing course such as the one presented in this argument—Spiritual Journeys: Faith, Community, and Spiritual Autobiography—assist students in coming to terms with their spiritual experiences and the language used to articulate those experiences to a broader community.



Creative nonfiction. Memoir. Religious rhetoric. Composition pedagogy. Constitutive rhetoric. Emerging adults. Millennials. Anne Lamott. Kathleen Norris. Spiritual autobiography.