English Ph.D. Dissertations


Writing Centers as Literacy Sponsors in the 21st Century: Investigating Multiliteracy Center Theory and Practice

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English (Rhetoric and Writing) PhD

First Advisor

Kristine Blair (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Charles Coletta (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Gary Heba (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Member)


This dissertation examines how the proliferation of multimodal composition in college curricula across the nation affects Writing Center theory and practice. The project acknowledges that universities are beginning to recognize and adapt definitions of literacy that argue for 21st century individuals to be able to adapt, critique, and ultimately create a variety of media (see New London Group, 1996; NCTE, 2008; and Kress, 2003 among others). I connect this research to Writing Center theory and practice by demonstrating that historically, Writing Centers have served as literacy sponsors in the university. As such, I advocate what is commonly referred to as a Multiliteracy Center model (see Trimbur, 2000 and Sheridan and Inman 2010). However, while there is research supporting the Multiliteracy model, there are a dearth of narratives that examine Multiliteracy Center theory and practice; while Writing Centers typically chronicle shifts in Writing Center theory practice in great detail, there is currently not much written on the intersections between writing center theory and practice and multimodal composition. This project works towards filling this gap. As such, I provide a case study of Eastern Kentucky University and their Noel Studio for Academic Creativity. Using constructivist grounded theory (as conceived by Kathy Charmaz), I weave together interviews, consultation observations, survey responses, and existing theory and practice to better understand how working with multimodal composers can alternately enrich and complicate writing center theory and practice.