Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

English Rhetoric and Composition, PhD

Committee Chair

Horner, Bruce

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Kopelson, Karen

Committee Member

Kopelson, Karen

Committee Member

Kelderman, Frank

Committee Member

Trimbur, John

Author's Keywords

translingualism; language; basic writing; developmental education; composition


Linguistic justice and the treatment of language difference are of great concern to the discipline of rhetoric and composition. Yet, basic writing, arguably the field’s richest source of language variation, has not received the full benefit of what has been termed the “translingual turn” (Alvarez; Corcoran; Hall; Jackson; Kubota). This dissertation explores the role of language ideologies in the theory and practice of basic writing, culminating in a review and critique of current uptakes of translingualism in basic writing scholarship. Overall, I find that greater attention needs to be paid to the translingual potential of seemingly conventional language as well as classrooms comprised of so-called monolingual students. Chapter one investigates the field’s changing perceptions of the basic writer, their languaging, and their place in the university. I argue that shifting language ideologies exert change upon approaches to basic writing; our field’s ideological stance toward basic writers has been shaped by and has shaped our stance toward language difference. Chapter two explores the treatment of error and writing standards in basic writing scholarship of the past fifty years, and articulates how theoretical approaches to basic writing, including translingualism, respond to so-called error. Chapter three focuses on basic writing pedagogy, examining translingual potential and missed opportunity in extant scholarship on language ideology and language difference. I find that latent translingualism is evident in basic writing scholarship published before the coinage of the term. In a similar vein, chapter four centers on basic writing placement practices and programmatic development, assessing the translinguality of models currently being enacted. Ultimately, this project works to expand disciplinary understanding of the histories of basic writing and ideologies of language difference, and sheds light on the relationship between these fields. Articulating this relationship allows us to better seize the opportunity that translingualism offers, in the basic writing classroom and beyond.