Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Mary Louise Buley-Meissner

Committee Members

Charles Schuster, Margaret Noodin, Donna Pasternak, Todd DeStigter


Pedagogy, Race, Responsibility, Storytelling, Whiteness, Writing


Composition Studies teacher-scholars who are committed to working with multicultural student populations are trained to value writing from marginalized groups, recognize the intelligence that lies within “non-standard” forms, and encourage student writers to find and use their own voices. Too often, however, our thinking and writing focuses on what we teachers assume to be our responsibility: giving voice to the voiceless or empowering student success. This dissertation addresses this situation by re-conceptualizing responsibility itself, proposing that multicultural pedagogies are of limited use unless we examine the self-perceptions and preconceptions influencing our work with students in the classroom. Modeling a research-based narrative, I go through a process of critical self-reflection—of examining my deeply-ingrained assumptions, experiences, and privileges—so that I may begin to see in myself, and therefore reveal to readers, how our personal and professional lives are shaped by larger social narratives and ideologies. I demonstrate and argue that the process of narrativizing and theorizing our personal and professional experiences can help composition teacher-scholars to reexamine and reform institutional discourses around teaching, composing, student identities, teacher identities, language, and literacy and can more responsibly promote student-centered, progressive composition pedagogy in first-year writing classrooms.