Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Horner, Bruce M.


English language--Rhetoric--Study and teaching; Education, Higher--United States; Universities and colleges--Graduate work


This dissertation critiques graduate education in rhetoric and composition in relationship to recent calls for a “translingual” approach to the teaching of writing and a transnational, cross-cultural approach to writing research (Horner, Lu, Royster, Trimbur; Canagarajah; Donahue). Building on this scholarship, I attend to the (re)production of disciplinary dispositions toward language difference in rhetoric and composition doctoral studies. Through textual analysis of the Rhetoric Review surveys of doctoral programs in the field (1987, 1995, 2000, 2007, and the current wiki), archival materials from various programs (including three focal schools), and a survey of doctoral students currently enrolled in the University of Louisville’s Rhetoric and Composition Ph.D. program, I investigate tensions between official discourses of rhetoric and composition doctoral studies and the lived experiences of graduate teaching and learning in the field. Within these tensions, I identify dominant and emergent language ideologies in rhetoric and composition and describe the ways in which these are exercised and transmitted through its doctoral training. Though, I argue, rhetoric and composition doctoral curricula have evolved to reflect a dominant monolinguist ideology in U.S. higher education and society at large, this ideology has been relocalized and resisted in the practices of students and teachers negotiating the material conditions of composition teaching and learning in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. At the level of local practice, rhetoric and composition graduate education suggests the emergence of a translingual ideology in the discipline that recognizes and responds to more complex social identities and cross-language practices in a globalizing world. In Chapter One, I discuss the globalization of higher education, the changing institutional conditions it brings about, and recent arguments for translingual and crosscultural approaches to composition teaching and research meant to address these conditions. I then provide a description of my methodology in examining Ph.D. programs in rhetoric and composition to identify their language politics and, ultimately, suggest possibilities for change. In Chapters Two and Three, I analyze curricular policies surrounding the practices of rhetoric and composition doctoral studies to argue that graduate education in the field has been structured, currently and historically, in relationship to an ideal of English monolingualism. In Chapter Four, I explore the dissonance between policy and procedure—curriculum and education—to reveal the translingual work already taking place in rhetoric and composition doctoral studies in the context of teaching and learning. In Chapter Five, I discuss language education policy initiatives in Europe. I use lessons learned from these initiatives to frame suggestions for how composition studies can serve as a vehicle for institutional change when it comes to matters of language and language relations in U.S. universities. I argue that change can best be achieved not through top-down policy initiatives, but through making local changes to specific rhetoric and composition graduate program practices.