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Enacting and interrogating the "academic" in undergraduate language and literacy practices

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Title: Enacting and interrogating the "academic" in undergraduate language and literacy practices
Author(s): Waselus Looker, Samantha M.
Director of Research: Prior, Paul A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Prior, Paul A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Hawisher, Gail E.; Schaffner, Spencer W.; McCarthey, Sarah J.
Department / Program: English
Discipline: English
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): rhetoric pedagogy linguistics English composition teaching college students case studies academic writing standard language English language variation
Abstract: This dissertation examines the messages undergraduate writers receive about what writing and language practices qualify as “academic.” I consider several aspects of these messages: their broad circulation, as evidenced through discourse analysis of the “rules” presented in first year writing textbooks; their contradictions, as shown through published academic writing’s frequent violation of these “rules”; and their effects on individual students, as illustrated in two- to three-year ethnographic case studies with six undergraduate basic writers. Using feminist research methods, I worked with students as co-researchers to analyze their academic writing, their teachers’ responses to it, and their experiences with academic writing and academic language in and out of the classroom. Data included student papers (often including teacher written responses) from courses across the curriculum as well as repeated semi-structured and text-based interviews. From this data, rules of correctness and appropriateness emerged as inordinately prominent in representations of academic language and literacy to undergraduates. I argue that such rules, in holding students to standards very different from those applied to professional academics, deny students the privilege of fully claiming an identity as academic writers. Ultimately, I assert a need for pedagogical materials and research to attend to the diversity already inherent in writing and language perceived as academic, rather than perpetuating the illusion of a firmly defined academic standard. I identify sociohistoric and linguistic anthropological theories that can illuminate this diversity and draw our attention to the ideologies that interfere with teachers’ reading of students’ linguistically diverse texts for their intellectual contributions. Finally, I propose teaching and research practices that invite students to understand the pervasive influence of language ideologies and to explore the complex, shifting nature of the definitions, perceptions, and choices tied to academic writing.
Issue Date: 2011-05-25
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/24009
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Samantha M. W. Looker
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-25
Date Deposited: 2011-05
 

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