English Ph.D. Dissertations


Computers, Composition and Context: Narratives of Pedagogy and Technology Outside the Computers and Writing Community

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English/Rhetoric and Writing

First Advisor

Kristine Blair (Advisor)


This dissertation examines the technology and pedagogy histories of composition teachers outside of the computers and writing community in order to provide context and future avenues of research in addressing the instructional technology needs of those teachers. The computers and composition community has provided many opportunities for writing teachers to improve their understanding of new technologies. However, for those teachers who lack the resources, positions, and backgrounds often enjoyed by the computers and composition community, there is little that can be provided to more equitably address their teaching needs. Although there is much innovative work in the computers and composition community, more needs to be done to address the disconnect between theory and practice often perceived by the marginalized majority of composition teachers. Although the community has often cast itself as sensitive to the majority of composition teachers, they have also implicitly ignored these teachers because the community has addressed technology in highly focused terms, relied on contexts for its scholarship that do not reach many composition teachers, and has been dismissive of many mainstream technologies. In order to address the gaps left by these assumptions, this dissertation shares literacy, teaching, and technology narratives of five writing teachers from different generations, educational backgrounds, and regions, situating their histories against the backdrop of composition and computers and writing history. These narratives revealed that contemporary theory did not appear relevant to the teaching of writing for those teachers who were not educated in the field of composition. They also revealed that the teaching of writing and the use of technology was remarkably uniform across many contexts, even as the specific technologies employed were different based mostly on an individual’s own educational history. Specific recommendations for the computers and writing community to address the needs of this group of composition teachers were to model technology use in first year composition and beyond, work with individual teachers to adapt technology to meet their needs, consider other disciplines uses of technology and writing, and continue to pay attention to educational histories of those who teach composition to see how technologies are adapted.