English Ph.D. Dissertations


By Any Other Name: (Mis)Understanding Transfer-Focused Feminist Pedagogy

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English/Rhetoric and Writing

First Advisor

Neil Baird (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Irina Stakhanova (Other)

Third Advisor

Sue Carter Wood (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Member)


Building on the suggestion that "threshold concepts might prove a productive frame through which to consider questions related to writing and transfer;" and the idea that "composition theory has borrowed from feminist pedagogy in such significant ways that it seems imperative to see contemporary composition pedagogy as feminist pedagogy," this research places threshold concepts in writing studies and feminist pedagogy into conversation through a mixed-methods study (Adler-Kassner, Majewski, and Koshnick; Siebler 37). This study employed surveys, interviews, classroom observation, and artifact collection from instructors and included surveys from students enrolled in first year writing at BGSU. An overview of data revealed themes of transfer-focused feminist pedagogy: (1) confronting power and authority; (2) making connections to genre and community; (3) engaging as students and instructors in reflection and metacognition and (4) considering alternate definitions of successful transfer. In addition to the four themes of transfer-focused feminist pedagogy, student and instructor survey data and the instructor case-studies suggest perceptions of engagement with both threshold concepts and feminist pedagogy but lack meaningful adaptation of prior knowledge, where students see value in their first year writing class, but ultimately view transfer and future writing in terms of simplistic metaphors of application rather than adaptation. I further examined these four themes by focusing on two instructor-case studies using an institutional ethnography methodology which allowed me to examine the lived realties and experiences of ways instructors practice transfer-focused feminist pedagogies in the first year writing classroom.

Ultimately, this research suggests that instructors, students, and transfer scholars should consider the role of power dynamics within the first year writing classroom and that teaching students to confront issues of power and authority to engage in more meaningful transfer. To do so, I conclude by proposing transfer-focused feminist pedagogy as a threshold concept, offering possibilities of engagement with these four themes for students, instructors, and transfer researchers.