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Teachers, texts, and transactions: towards a pedagogy for teaching literature

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A simple passion for reading compels many to enter the university literature classroom. What happens once they arrive may fuel that passion, or possibly destroy it. A romanticized relationship with literature proves to be an obstacle that hinders a deeper

A simple passion for reading compels many to enter the university literature classroom. What happens once they arrive may fuel that passion, or possibly destroy it. A romanticized relationship with literature proves to be an obstacle that hinders a deeper and richer engagement with texts. Primary research consisting of personal interviews, observations, and surveys, form the source of data for this dissertation project which was designed to examine how literature teachers engage their students with texts, discussion, and assignments in the university setting. Traditionally text centered and resolute, literature courses will need refashioning if they are to advance beyond erstwhile conventions. The goal of this study is to create space for a dialogue about the need for a pedagogy of literature.

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2013

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Come Gather ‘Round, People: Building a Constitutive Writing for Publics Pedagogy Through Rhetorical Analysis of Folk Music Recorded by Bob Dylan and Odetta During the Civil Rights Movement

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My dissertation contributes to the field of rhetoric and composition by introducing “folk pedagogy,” a pedagogical approach grounded in rhetorical theory that effectively prepares students to write for public audiences. This pedagogical theory answers calls from scholars of rhetoric and

My dissertation contributes to the field of rhetoric and composition by introducing “folk pedagogy,” a pedagogical approach grounded in rhetorical theory that effectively prepares students to write for public audiences. This pedagogical theory answers calls from scholars of rhetoric and composition for teaching in a manner that encourages civic engagement. Folk pedagogy is a pedagogical approach that views folk music as a metaphor for public writing in order to prepare students to write impactfully on social issues. The approach is derived from my analysis of the folk music of Bob Dylan and Odetta, in which I utilize close textual analysis in order to better understand the ways in which their music was able to constitute activist communities around the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Through this analysis, I argue that Bob Dylan and Odetta constituted audiences through appeals to American civic identity, including references to travel across U.S. landscapes and rearrangement of traditional American folk songs. In making this argument, I engage the scholarship of Gregory Clark, Michael Calvin McGee, Maurice Charland, and Rachel Donaldson, among others. I then use this analysis to build folk pedagogy, a subgenre of writing for publics that uses folk music as a metaphor for public writing in order to effectively prepare students to engage audiences through composition. In creating this approach to teaching composition, I draw on the work of scholars such as Brian Gogan and Laurie Gries. This pedagogical approach is inspired by my own teaching experiences in both the university and prison setting and is therefore designed in a manner that is accessible and adaptable for different learning contexts. Finally, I share a syllabus that engages folk pedagogy at the university level. Through this dissertation, I hope to inspire other educators to adapt folk pedagogy for their own classrooms. I also aim to extend our field’s understanding of the civil rights movement by drawing attention to the essential role that folk music played in constituting activist communities around it.

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2021

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“We’re Still Writing That Story”: How Successful Women Engineers Use Narrative Rhetoric to Open Possibilities for Change

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Women are under-represented in engineering, in school and in the workplace. Reasons for this include the socio-historical masculinization of technology, which has been established by feminist technology researchers such as Faulkner, Lohan and Cockburn, and makes developing role models of

Women are under-represented in engineering, in school and in the workplace. Reasons for this include the socio-historical masculinization of technology, which has been established by feminist technology researchers such as Faulkner, Lohan and Cockburn, and makes developing role models of women engineers difficult. The under-representation of women in engineering is a social problem that typically lies outside the area of interest of rhetoricians. However, my dissertation considers storytelling by women engineers as a powerful rhetorical tool, one that is well-suited for the particular structural inequalities endemic to engineering. I analyze stories told by participants in an oral history project conducted by the Society of Women Engineers, with women engineers who worked between the 1940’s and the early 2000’s. I use a textual coding research method to reveal the claims participants make through stories, themes that are evident across those claims, and how women engineers effectively use stories to advance those claims. My study extends the scholarly understanding of the rhetoric of engineering work. I find that in their stories participants argue for a complex relationship between social and technical work; they describe how technical thinking helps them work through social problems, how technical work is socially situated, that an interest in technical work impacts family and interpersonal relationships, and how making career decisions is facilitated by social relationships. They also demonstrate considerable rhetorical expertise in their use of narrative. As a collection these stories meet a pressing need: the need for an understanding of engineering and women engineers that creates possibilities for change. They meet this need first by helping the audience understand both significant systemic oppressions and the problem-solving individual actions that can be taken in response (in ways that highlight possibilities without placing the full responsibility for change on women engineers), and second by illustrating a heterogenous understanding of engineering and women engineers (in order to avoid essentializing women and essentializing technology). As a result of these qualities, the stories are a way to get to ‘know’ engineers and engineering from a distance, which is exactly the pressing lack felt by so many potential women engineers.

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2020