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 T.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Sheridan, Mary P.

Committee Member

Sheridan, Mary P.

Committee Member

Ryan, Susan

Committee Member

Fishman, Jenn

Author's Keywords

two-year colleges; community colleges; composition studies; writing faculty; knowledge-making; disciplinarity


At a time when state-sponsored policies for tuition-free two-year college education are on the rise, this dissertation examines the place of two-year colleges within the primary discourses circulated within Composition Studies. Specifically, through its investigation of the professional practices and identities of two-year college writing faculty—who work in institutions that are often mistakenly seen as “devoid” of scholarship—this dissertation interrogates disciplinary conceptions of scholarship. This study was comprised of two modes of data collection: an examination of publication trends in prominent Composition Studies journals, and interviews with seven community college writing teachers in the Southeast. This dissertation finds that, in contrast to some of the common narratives surrounding this particular institutional setting, upheld by publication trends in Composition Studies journals (Chapter Three), the teachers interviewed are actively engaged in inquiry and knowledge-making. However, their work is not always identified as such, and, consequently, is not always exchanged with nor recognized by the wider discipline of Composition Studies. Given the large portion of the work of teaching college writing that takes place in two-year colleges, this dissertation argues for a more capacious understanding of scholarship, and posits the scholarly lives enacted by participants as an alternate model of inquiry and knowledge-making. This model is shaped by the institutional settings in which participants work (Chapter Two), and is premised on professional spaces institutionally understood as sites of other professional activities—the classroom (Chapter Three) and conferences and faculty reading groups (Chapter Four), as well as collaboration, local applications of new knowledge, and the complex and overlapping relationships between faculty’s different position responsibilities (Chapters Three and Four). Ultimately, this dissertation argues that wider acceptance of such alternate models of scholarship would allow for clearer recognition of the contributions of teacher-scholars (such as those interviewed for this study) to Composition Studies, and would pave the way for disciplinary unity through the increased exchange of innovative ideas and practices across institutional settings—thus improving writing instruction for all college students (Chapter Five).