After reading this chapter, which follows one professor's journey attempting to teach emotional literacy at the university level, I had the feeling that there needs to be some kind of conversation about what the goal of an undergraduate education, specifically in English/Literary Studies or Writing, should teach. Furthermore, where are our programs outside of the university to help foster mental health and emotional healing?
The first person I thought of when reading Bump was my most recent ex. He came from a very tight-knit, upper middle class conservative family in which excess of emotion were seen as weakness. In fact, his communication skills regarding his emotions, as well as his emotional wants/needs, were so poor while we were together that it became one of the most emotionally abusive relationships I have ever been in. He would scream and yell when I altered my appearance - getting a new hairstyle or tattoo - and threaten to never talk to me again. The next day he would tell me he blacked out because he was so angry. He left broken chairs in our residence hall lounge. When he found out one of our friends had aborted his child, I held him while he wept for hours on end. His family didn't "believe in therapy" and his mother's response to my mental health was to stay away from people like me. In fact, one of the biggest divides in our relationship was his family's opinion of me and the fact that I was on medication and seeing a therapist for depression.
We both go to college now, but you would not find him in a class on emotional literacy. Emotional illiteracy is a huge cultural norm, and therefore needs to be tackled on a larger scale. It is upsetting to see the way the author of this chapter was attacked for his attempts, with worries about student safety and grading procedures. I think, possibly, this kind of teaching needs to find space outside the academic world before it can be discussed and analyzed academically.