Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Williams, Bronwyn T.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Horner, Bruce

Committee Member

Horner, Bruce

Committee Member

Lu, Min-Zhan

Committee Member

Jaffe, Aaron

Committee Member

Larson, Ann Elizabeth


High school students--United States--Language; College students--United States--Language; English language--Rhetoric--Study and teaching


This dissertation offers and theorizes findings of a two-year mobile ethnography investigating the complexity of students’ movements within and among secondary and tertiary educational institutions and the labor market. The project illustrates the lateral and recursive natures of students’ educational and occupational trajectories and thereby reveals the mutually constitutive relations among scenes of writing across space and time. While the study follows eleven students moving from different tracks of high school English through their first years at research universities, colleges and full-time jobs, this text focuses specifically on the mobilities of three students: Nadif, Katherine and James. I draw upon a range of data types collected while participating in these students’ patterns of movement in and across scenes of writing, conducting interviews in single sites and on the move, and analyzing their print-based and digital texts to represent intersecting and diverging movements across educational and occupational localities. Moreover, I use this data to investigate the ways in which students draw upon multiple literacies and linguistic resources to accommodate, resist and reformulate conventions of discourse, genre and discipline. Intersections and divergences among Nadif’s, Katherine’s and James’ trajectories reveal how language and literacy practices are informed by the ideologies, experiences and habituated practices of and desires for mobility available in past, present and future scenes of reading and writing. By working with co-researchers in and across scenes of writing in high school, college, at work, home, in transit, and elsewhere this project complicates apparent boundaries between secondary and tertiary and in-school and out-of-school literacy practices; attends to conceptualizations of college writing from stakeholders “outside” the academy; provides insight into the complexity of students’ movements within and between educational institutions; challenges notions of fixed locations and standards of language and literacy; and, thereby, works against the relentless future orientation of the U.S. educational-occupational system to recognize the value of students’ literacy practices in the present.