Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Robyn Flaum Cruz

Second Advisor

Sidney Trantham

Third Advisor

Maya Corneille


This qualitative phenomenological study sought to gain insight into the unique experiences of Black women students who were writing memoir toward the goal of self-definition in a Black feminist learning environment at a Historically Black College/University (HBCU). Two teaching methods included personal plot (an extension of expressive writing that offers writing prompts for emotional closure), and biblio-fusion (a combination of expressive writing and bibliotherapy) (Lockhart, 2017a; 2017b). Interviews were conducted with six Black women participants and triangulated against their personal essays and online journal responses. Personal plot, a form of narrative analysis was used to construct paragraphs on what each personal essay was about, and a data driven analysis of narrative was conducted on the online journals and interview transcripts. Findings revealed that participants faced obstacles of racism, and sexism and internalized these oppressions through conforming to stereotypes of Blackness, colorism, sexualization of Black women, and assimilation. To counter these obstacles, participants utilized survival and success strategies. Notable among these strategies was mutual vulnerability with their classmates and their teacher as the catalyst for transcending fears and stereotypes of Blackness. Also notable was healing transformation and intergenerational healing where participants wrote and spoke of re-gifting their new awareness to the next generation. These results bear implications for expressive writing and other expressive therapies, and prompt further inquiry into teaching and research methods that emphasize Black women's ways of learning and healing.


Several methods from this dissertation were derived from The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript, by Zelda Lockhart, 2017. For additional information regarding these methods visit:

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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