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  • Deborah Alvarez
    Associate Professor
    English Education Coordinator
    University of Delaware
    Department of English
    056 Memorial Hall
    Newark, DE 19716
    (302) 831-2297


    Deborah Alvarez is an Associate Professor of English, who has dual educational preparation in written composition and teaching of writing. Her research interests parallel the educational interest: adolescent composing processes, writing pedagogy and writing literacy as it is affected by critical life events. Her second area of interest related to this is narrative writing, in terms of narrative story, primarily personal scholarly narratives and traumatic and tragic events turned into stories.

    At the University of Delaware, Professor Alvarez teaches courses in writing pedagogy, narrative writing and Teaching of Writing for Middle and Secondary Language Arts pre-service teachers.  Professor Alvarez also serves as Adjunct Faculty to the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware.

    Her latest research work investigates how a young Haitian teacher learned English and founded a school to teach English as a means of survival in Haiti.  Her earlier work investigated adolescent composing processes in situations where adolescents are victims of violence, abuse and natural disasters.  She studies these conditions in social/cultural/educational context of the English Language Arts classroom, working with teachers as research subjects alongside the adolescents.

    After two years of research in post-Katrina New Orleans public schools, Professor Alvarez has published several articles about what impact the disaster had upon English Language Arts teachers and their students.  One article in particular describes the writing seminars Professor Alvarez conducted for three consecutive summers in New Orleans, where she worked with teachers, acquainting them with the effects of the disaster trauma on adolescent literacy and the role written tasks can play in mitigating some of the stresses.  In 2011, Professor Alvarez published her first book, Writing to Survive: Teens and Teachers Negotiate the Effects of Violence, Abuse and Disaster (Rowman and Littlefield Pub., which analyzes the effects of violence, abuse and disaster upon the composing and literacy processes of adolescents and the writing pedagogy their teachers use in the classroom.

    She is presently applying for grants to study the effects of the CCS in writing on teachers and adolescents’ writing within schools in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania and New York.  She is looking for any middle school or secondary ELA teacher who would be interested in working with her on this project.   A separate project is aimed at collecting the stories of New Jersey and New York teachers who experienced Hurricane Sandy.

    Dr. Alvarez also provides workshops for teachers who have experienced violence, abuse and effects of disaster.  Professor Alvarez wants to share this research information with school districts and teachers, and invites them to contact her at


  • Ph.D., English, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1998
  • M.A., Writing and Literature, Middlebury College
  • M.S., Curriculum and Instruction-Secondary Language Arts, Kansas State University
  • B.A., English Literature, Arizona State University

Research Projects 


  • Writing to Survive: Teachers and Teens Negotiate the Effects of Violence, Abuse, and Disaster
    Alvarez, Deborah
    Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2011.

    Writing to Survive exposes the complicated world of teaching writing to adolescents who have been affected by critical life events: violence, abuse, and natural disasters. In this qualitative study, the author traces the effects of critical life event in the lives of five adolescents and their high school English teachers. Using theories and research on writing and traumatic effects of critical life events on the adolescent brain, the author chronicles how critical life events affect an adolescent’s ability to process and complete literate tasks. By examining the writings which the adolescents complete in and out of the classroom, the author contextualizes all the writings and the ongoing adolescents’ life crises as they address or fail to address the adolescents’ learning situation. After presenting the five adolescents' cases, the author makes a curricular recommendation for teaching writing that offers teachers specific pedagogical tasks, teaching strategies and writing assignments which can have a positive affect on the literacy development of adolescents affected by violence, abuse and disasters.

  • UD College /Dept. Name  •   Address  •   Newark, DE 19716  •   USA
    Phone: 302-xxx-xxxx  •   E-mail:


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