Transformative Language artists envision a merger of the the language arts with individual and collective liberation: writing, storytelling, theatre, and music can work towards community-building, cultural and ecological restoration, and personal development. Transformative Language artists, scholars, facilitators, and consultants facilitate creative and language arts in many venues, including community centers, schools, prisons, health centers and hospitals, businesses, research facilities, and retreat centers. The following are real-life examples of TLA, used by permission:
Transformative Language Arts is a profoundly radical response to the fragmentation, isolation, violence, hopelessness and despair of our culture. In the same way, the word "radical" comes from the word "roots," TLA brings people literally back to their roots, and from that perspective, gives them a wider view of what they and what their communities might be. For one thing, TLA is inherently egalitarian for most of the population in this very literate society. It's also egalitarian economically since writing, speaking, telling stories and singing are activities available to most people, regardless of their circumstances. The roots of all cultures sink deeply into the oral tradition, from which come all the modalities and expressions of TLA Examples of TLA can be found in cultures around the world — from the talk therapists who incorporate journal writing into their work with clients, to tribal songs to pas on traditions. The cultural differences, however, in how TLA is manifest are wide, and it's important for people studying TLA to understand that not all cultures favor self-disclosure as a means of personal growth. Indeed, the very ways that "growth" or "transformation" are defined vary deeply among different peoples, and even within communities. In the last few decades, the theory and practice of TLA has grown in many areas:
TLA embraces all these inroads in addition to new and emerging paths. The growth of TLA as a movement and academic field is having, and can further catalyze, profound effects on our culture, such as exploring how language can begin to break through cultural, political and historic agendas, and through the personal fear, rage and despair that disempower individuals and communities. TLA seeks to preserve the richness and diversity of language itself, and the intimacy of human-to-human contact in an increasingly technological age.
Read more about TLA in The Power of Words: A Transformative Language Arts Reader, edited by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Janet Tallman, published by the TLA Network as the landmark collection on TLA in theory and practice. Also see Transformative Language Arts in Action, edited by Ruth Farmer and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, published by Rowman and Little.