Challenging Audiences to Listen: The Performance of Self-Disclosure in Community Writing Projects

Justin Lohr, Heather Lindenman


Young people have the potential to transform public perspectives about pressing social issues--if their audiences listen deeply to what they have to say. This article examines the ways that high school student participants in a community-university writing partnership employ self-disclosure, or emotion sharing, to encourage audiences to listen empathetically to performances about complex social issues. Our analysis of two student performance pieces reveals rhetorical strategies that might promote empathetic listening. We argue that empathic listening is a necessary precondition for the kind of collective community listening that can lead to social change.

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Publication of the Community Literacy Journal is made possible through the generous support of the English Department and the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Florida International University. The CLJ is a journal of the Conference on Community Writing.