Associate Professor, Teaching Stream
Specialization: Expressive writing; publishing, writing teaching, learning and curriculum development; health and science writing
Professor Guy Allen authored and performed story-based performance pieces in Canada and the United States from 1980-2000. Allen has pioneered writing autobiographical narrative, as a form of community activism. In 1995, Allen co-founded Life Rattle, a Toronto radio program devoted to seeking out, developing and broadcasting stories from Toronto communities, especially from people from communities under-represented in mainstream media. Life Rattle now includes Toronto’s now well-known Totally Unknown Writers Festival, an annual showcase of new writers, and Life Rattle Press, a nonprofit publisher of new writing. Allen’s performance work and his community activism have attracted support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council. Allen has advised the Department of Psychiatry at Toronto’s Mt. Sinai Hospital on the use of narrative therapy as a clinical tool. Allen has become known for his innovations in the teaching of writing in universities and colleges and has won four university teaching awards, including Canada’s national 3M Teaching Fellowship. UTM’s Professional Writing and Communication Program, and the expressivist philosophy that underlies it, contains many pedagogical innovations introduced by Allen. Allen teaches Expressive Writing: Pedagogy and Practice to teachers and graduate students at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
Dr. Guy Allen has developed innovative approaches to the teaching of writing in universities. These innovations feature narrative and journalistic creative non-fiction as powerful alternatives to standard expository prose. The 3M Teaching Fellowship, Canada’s most prestigious award for university teaching, recognized the educational value of these innovations. His co-authored book, Clear, Precise and Direct: Strategies for Writing (Oxford University Press, 2015), articulates and explains Allen’s new pedagogy. Allen’s recent applications of his narrative work include an experimental program sponsored by the Syrian Canadian Foundation and the Canadian Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. In this program, Allen will lead workshops designed to help recent Syrian immigrants with proficient English skills write about their experience of war in Syria and exile in Canada. Another project is a peer-model collection (exceptional, publishable writing by students), Cricket Suicides, Mad Cows, and Mirror Molecules: Communicating Science, forthcoming in Fall 2018. Allan is also working on The Nancy Chong Stories, a collection of nonfiction narratives by a recently deceased former student, who produced brilliant stories about her mother’s immigration to Canada and the hard life of Toronto’s Chinatown Chinese in the 1960s. For Allen, stories are a form of community activism.