Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

English Rhetoric and Composition, PhD

Committee Chair

Williams, Bronwyn

Committee Member

Schneider, Stephen

Committee Member

Ryan, Susan

Committee Member

Hart, D. Alexis

Author's Keywords

veterans studies; student veterans; literacy sponsorship; military literacy; first-year composition


This dissertation is grounded in scholarship on communities of practice and literacy sponsorship and aims to contribute to a growing body of research about the literacy practices of student veterans. Rather than focusing on the impact of trauma or service-related injuries, this study demonstrates the influence that a military learning environment can have on a veteran’s subsequent experiences with college writing. Chapter 1 includes a brief history of the military’s impact on higher education and an overview of the existing scholarship on student veterans’ academic writing. I also review scholarship on communities of practice in literacy studies and literacy sponsorship in order to establish the critical lens through which I analyzed my participants’ experiences. Chapter 2 describes the procedures I followed for recruiting participants, structuring interviews, and analyzing data. In Chapter 3, I demonstrate how the form of literacy sponsorship my participants experienced in the military is both collaborative and modeled after a master-apprentice relationship. Moreover, I contend that this structure reinforces values such as shared authorship, shared labor, and collective responsibility. In Chapter 4, I share participants’ concerns about authority, institutional structure and resources, and disability in higher education settings. I argue that although universities are highly-structured institutions, their organization and the power dynamics embedded in them can be difficult for student veterans to navigate. In Chapter 5, I conclude by arguing that a more nuanced representation of military writing and its associated instructional practices can help student veterans transfer existing literacy skills toward new opportunities for application.