English Ph.D. Dissertations


Practitioners of Earth: The Literacy Practices and Civic Rhetorics of Grassroots Cartographers and Writing Instructors

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English/Rhetoric and Writing

First Advisor

Kristine Blair (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Ronald C. Scherer (Other)

Third Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Sue Carter Wood (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Clayton Rosati (Committee Member)


This dissertation, "Practitioners of Earth: The Literacy Practices and Civic Rhetorics of Grassroots Cartographers and Writing Instructors," addresses the question of how diverse literacies can advance the civic rhetorical work of communities underrepresented in public discourses. Specifically, I explore how grassroots cartographers make geographic maps to change dominant narratives and material realities of marginalized communities. I also explore how writing instructors teach geographic maps and diverse literacy practices in relation to civic learning objectives. I align my scholarship with feminist cultural geographers and rhetoric and composition scholars such Amy Propen; Nedra Reynolds; and Amy Diehl, Jeffrey T. Grabill, William Hart-Davidson, and Vashil Iyer who explore geographic maps in material, spatial, and rhetorical contexts. My dissertation continues this discussion, yet it goes further by examining the relationship between civic rhetorics and literacy practices as related to geographic mapping. To do this, I conducted semi-structured interviews to gather data from my participants shared with me. Additionally, I used textual analysis, narrative inquiry, and critical citation practices. To code and analyze the data, I used feminist-oriented teacher research and grounded theory methodologies. What I learned is that grassroots cartographers engage with diverse literacy practices, specifically rhetorical (audience and ethos), composing (multimodal and situated processes), intercommunal (cultural self-awareness and cultural humility), and technological (tools and communication). My findings also show that civic rhetorical work, including grassroots mapping, is accomplished through infrastructures that rely on people who practice a range of literate activities.