Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

English Rhetoric and Composition, PhD

Committee Chair

Sheridan, Mary P.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Williams, Bronwyn T.

Committee Member

Williams, Bronwyn T.

Committee Member

Brueggemann, Brenda Jo

Committee Member

Soldat-Jaffe, Tatjana

Committee Member

Restaino, Jessica

Author's Keywords

narrative; teacher education; teacher identity; teacher learning; teaching college writing


Rhetoric and composition has a long, robust history of studying how we train new writing teachers in our graduate/writing programs; yet we lack in-depth inquiries that foreground how new writing teachers learn. This dissertation traces five graduate students learning how to be and become writing teachers, using narrative as an object and means of analysis to study the tacitly internalized process of newcomer professional identity learning. In this project, I enact narrative as a feminist, interdisciplinary methodology to restory new writing teacher research narratives away from implicit deficit or explicit resistance and toward a more generative focus on newcomers’ motivated learning and complex experiences mediated by understandings of teaching, learning, and education that precede, exceed, and infuse the program training and academic literacy histories that our research has historically privileged. Drawing on research in writing studies, education, sociology, and psychology, this dissertation conducts a narrative inquiry into new writing teachers’ identity learning by analyzing stories of teaching and learning elicited from five new writing teachers during a year-long semi-structured, text-based interview study. Using the interplay of thematic and structural analysis of participants’ 248 stories and artifact analysis of participants’ teaching texts, I practice narrative inquiry as an explicitly feminist methodology to destabilize and interrogate what we think we know about new writing teachers’ identities and understandings of learning (as in Chapter Three), experiences and teaching troubles (as in Chapter Four), and motivated desires for the future (as in Chapter Five). I also rely on interdisciplinary theories of learning and identity to understand new teachers as complex people mediated and motivated over time in ways that academic writing/composition theories alone have not adequately illuminated. Ultimately, I argue that new teacher research in writing studies should employ more complex methodologies for studying new writing teachers’ identities as learned and storied over time; and that listening rhetorically to newcomers’ stories and for learning and meaning-making is one way to interrupt unproductive assumptions about newcomer deficit or resistance and to restory our research, administrative, and teaching practices to authorize and encourage more agentive positions from which newcomers (and we all) can learn to act.