Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

English Rhetoric and Composition, PhD

Committee Chair

Kopelson, Karen

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Schneider, Stephen

Committee Member

Schneider, Stephen

Committee Member

Maxwell, Kristi

Committee Member

Kelland, Lara

Author's Keywords

coming out; classroom writing; Queer; performativity


My dissertation investigates how and why LGBTQ-identified, postsecondary writing instructors perform intersectional identities in their classrooms. Scholars in the field of rhetoric and composition have examined these critical questions as early as 1974 and several times since. However, oppressive, regressive sexual politics; a maelstrom of contemporary public confessions made possible and prolific through new media; and an increasingly intersectional landscape of queer people all provide exigency to update our coming out conversation. This dissertation is the analytical writeup of a national study that I conducted in 2018. I surveyed approximately 100 LGBTQ-identified postsecondary writing instructors in the United States and completed approximately 20 semi-structured interviews to investigate the following central questions: 1. Do LGBTQ-identified instructors come out and/or pass in their postsecondary writing classrooms? How? Why? 2. Does identity intersectionality affect instructors’ motivation to perform queer identity in their postsecondary writing classrooms? How? 3. Do LGBTQ-identified instructors perceive any impacts of their queer identity performances on their writing pedagogies? I conclude that teachers of writing perform identity in intricately intersectional, contextually contingent, and often productively disruptive ways; that the exercise of queer cunning is a powerful, generative rhetoric and episteme; and that queer research methods and methodologies matter because they reveal new ways to discover knowledge in our discipline.