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 Co-Chair (if applicable)

Kopelson, Karen

Committee Member

Kopelson, Karen

Committee Member

Brueggeman, Brenda

Committee Member

Petrosino, Kiki

Committee Member

Duffy, John

Author's Keywords

student writing; students; composition; pedagogy; ethics; humor


This dissertation examines the long-standing tradition in education of sharing and publishing students’ unintentionally amusing mistakes. Often called “bloopers,” “boners,” and “howlers,” students’ writing mistakes have been published in print since at least the early 20th century and more recently online. Using theories of reading student writing, academic discourse, ethics, and humor, this project analyzes the misconceptions that teachers and public audiences have of students, re-reads student writing for its potential, and explores the ethical implications of sharing student work with public audiences. The first two chapters ground the reader in the historical, social, and cultural contexts in which teachers share or publish student writing. The culture of remediation, persistent in K-12 and higher education contexts, shapes readings of student writing that prioritize correctness. Collections of student “bloopers” imply aspects of teacher-student relationships; thus these relationships can be re-thought not only in terms of broader models like remediation, but also through the practices that help define those relationships, such as methods of reading and assessing student writing. The third chapter reviews several frameworks related to ethical uses of student writing, such as those embraced by professional organizations and institutional guidelines. Through a closer look at the value of student writing from a research perspective, this chapter explores the tension between the treatment of student writing in research and the treatment of student writing in teaching. Meanwhile, the fourth chapter provides an extensive re-reading of several published student excerpts on the website Shit My Students Write. Through the application of humor theory, we can acknowledge the aspects of student error that prompt teachers to be humored while also interrogating the assumptions and misconceptions about error that inform why we are humored. This dissertation concludes with recommendations for engaging with representations of students and student writing. Teacher education is an important site that can foster changes in the teaching profession. Further recommendations for advocacy through public rhetoric are provided.