English Ph.D. Dissertations


At War with Words: Understanding U.S. Service-Personnel's Literate Practices for a Universal Design for Learning Worldview

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English/Rhetoric and Writing

First Advisor

Kristine Blair (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Sue Carter Wood (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Alexis Hart (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Lara Lengel (Committee Member)


Learners—e.g., students and research participants—face unique and invisible barriers to making and sharing knowledge. In fact, some individuals prefer to express themselves in modes that do not comply with “school-sponsored” (Emig, 1971) composing practices. Given writing studies teacher-scholars’ established reputation advocating for students of varied abilities, needs, and experiences, this project contends that Universal Design for Learning (UDL) could sustain writing studies teacher-scholars’ continued efforts for student advocacy and diverse learning practices. Stemming from disability studies, UDL fosters practices that are inclusive and accessible from inception for learners, including but not limited to individuals with military experience. Using mixed methods procedures for conducting and representing findings, this project shares the “self-sponsored” (Emig, 1971) multimodal literate practices of 301 current and former, male and female U.S. Military service personnel—including but not limited to their use of digital technologies. Findings reveal that literate practices foster complex identity negotiations and a sense of personal agency. Indeed, co-interpreters testify to the ways in which composing practices affirm their differences (identities) and agency as survivors—not victims—of trauma through their use of multimodal practices like drawing and public speaking, which a UDL worldview best facilitates.