Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Kopelson, Karen Lynn

Author's Keywords

Metaphor; Writing; Teaching; Identity


Metaphor; English language--Rhetoric--Study and teaching


This dissertation is a theoretical examination and textual analysis of the metaphors used to describe the act of writing and the teaching of writing. Within Rhetoric and Composition, there are specific conceptual metaphors that are instrumental to how teachers and compositionists describe the how writing development occurs, and what role teachers have in encouraging that development. This dissertation excavates the metaphoric interaction that has helped to shape the discipline of Rhetoric and Composition. I argue that the metaphors of writing run the risk of becoming "black-boxed," uncritically accepted (or resisted), which can lead to an unbalanced interactive relationship between members of Rhetoric and Composition and the metaphors they use to teach writing. In this dissertation, I use a synthesis of metaphor theory to understand the interactive potential of the conceptual metaphors used to describe and teach writing, in a progressively narrowed perspective that addresses the identities metaphorically available to both the discipline at large as well as the individual teachers within Rhetoric and Composition. This dissertation is divided into four chapters. Chapter I reviews the theoretical views of metaphor that guide this project. This chapter also provides insight into how metaphors become morally defined, as well as (dangerously) disregarded when deemed "dead." Chapter II examines the conceptual metaphor of WRITING-IS-PROCESS. This chapter charts the 40-year lifespan of PROCESS, providing snapshots representing the many shifts and reinvigorations that characterize the continued vitality and power of the metaphor as part of the identities available to teachers and scholars of writing. Chapter III narrows the focus further to examine the metaphors dominant within the genre of the teacher narrative. In such narratives, the teacherly experience is metaphorized through three key conceptual metaphors: TEACHING-IS-S TORY, TEACHING-IS-COMMUNITY, and TEACHING-IS-CONVERSATION. These metaphors can characterize teacherly experience in productive ways, but they can also, when not fully attended to, create a narrative trajectory that depicts the teacherly identity unproductively. Chapter IV focuses localized teacherly identity within statements of teaching philosophy. This chapter draws from collected teaching statements to identify the metaphoric trends in identity construction as engaged by both novice and more experienced members of Rhetoric and Composition.