Plain and Ordinary Things

Reading Women in the Writing Classroom

By Deborah A. Dooley

Subjects: English Education
Series: SUNY series, Feminist Theory in Education
Paperback : 9780791423202, 273 pages, May 1995
Hardcover : 9780791423196, 273 pages, June 1995

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Table of contents




Part One: Song and Sexuality: A Theory of Women's Writing

I. Songs of Silence: Women's Writing and the Recovery of the Romantic Project

II. Reading Women's Songs: A Theory of Orality

Part Two: Reading Writing Women: Virginia Woolf, Joanna Field, and Adrienne Rich

III. Reclaiming the Garden Song: Notes toward a Phenomenology of Intimacy

IV. Virginia Woolf and the Problematic of Intimacy

V. Rituals of Happiness: Joanna Field's Method of Following the Image

VI. 'Re-membering': Adrienne Rich and the Problematic of Experience





This book is about women's exploration of the relations between their private and public selves--it examines the voices with which women speak to their students, their colleagues, and themselves. The major audience is women interested in women's identity and identity construction as well as writing.


Plain and Ordinary Things revisions the space of student writing in classrooms from a number of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives: feminist, literary, anthropological, and phenomenological. It actualizes the relationships among reading and writing, the songs of pre-literate people, nineteenth and twentieth century literary history, feminist theories about gender and language, and women's writing and pedagogy. The book explores the relations between private and public selves and women's roles as teachers and writers. Dooley also examines the authenticity of women's voices with which they speak to their students, their colleagues, and themselves.

The discussion of reading, writing, and teaching in the book is informed by several premises. The most important of these is that writing and teaching are reproductive acts that gather up past experience, providing a ground for the expression and transformation of identity and that understanding this changes pedagogical theory and practice. The book also focuses on reading the writing of three twentieth century women authors: Virginia Woolf, Joanna Field (nee Marion Milner), and Adrienne Rich.

Deborah Anne Dooley is Professor of English, Chair of the English Department, faculty member in the Women's Studies Program, and Director of Writing Programs at Nazareth College of Rochester.


"Dooley's careful attention to the words and works of women writers (professional and student) both explains the silencing of women and at the same time demonstrates how effectively we have failed to 'hear' them. In a similar manner, as she 'listens' to these voices, she demonstrates the kind of connectedness we must achieve with our students; a connectedness only possible when we begin to respect what they say and ask how this shapes the way that they say it. I find this writing strategy both effective and enjoyable.

"Her development of a phenomenology of intimacy in connection with college writing is intellectually very important and joins a growing body of theory which I believe will radically change the field." — Sandra Jamieson, Drew University