The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Catherine Fox

Second Advisor

Sharon Cogdill

Third Advisor

Marla Kanengieter-Wildeson

Keywords and Subject Headings

mindfulness, agency, fear, process, brain, social responsibility, neuroplasiticty


This thesis uses a car metaphor to argue that writers lack agency when emotion, especially fear, takes the driver's seat. Fear narrows focus and keeps writers stuck in one "gear" ( editing) through attachment to existing drafts and perspectives. Such a focus leads to shallow writing goals and can make writers defensive and inflexible. These difficulties all signal a lack of agency; writers are not in control of meaning making. Through an understanding of the brain's plasticity and mindfulness practices, writers can take the driver's seat and respond, rather than react, to fear. More specifically, this thesis illustrates how mindfulness supports fluidity and openness during meaning making. Rather than adhering blindly to their current drafts and perspectives, writers can use knowledge of brain plasticity and specific mindfulness practices to continually revise their drafts from multiple, complex perspectives, thus helping them shift gears between different writing processes, such as idea generation and revision. Mindfulness and brain literacy make important contributions to feminist and socially responsible pedagogies by honoring embodied experience, reframing students' struggles with agency, and dissolving the body-mind and emotion-logic dualisms. In all of these ways, brain literacy and mindfulness foster a sense of agency and social responsibility in writers.


I would like to thank all of the teachers who have mentored me throughout my English master's and the thesis writing process, especially my thesis advisor, Catherine Fox, and my second reader, Sharon Cogdill. I am fortunate and honored to have had the opportunity to learn and grow through our work together. I also wish to thank my moms for their mentorship, love, and support.