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)

Schneider, Stephen

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.