English Ph.D. Dissertations


Identity Chats: Co-Authorized Narratives and the Performance of Writerly Selves in Mass-Multiliterate Times

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English (Rhetoric and Writing) PhD

First Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Kristine Blair (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Sue Carter Wood (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Savilla Banister (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Kevin Roozen (Committee Member)


Inspired by my classroom experience and Deborah Brandt's findings that generations of Americans were resistant to calling themselves "writer," this multimodal dissertation focuses on the critical narratives, reading and writing artifacts, reflections, and theories of two primary co-researching-participants (CRPs) concerning the complicated and elusive identity o f "writer" (Barthes; Foucault) and the not always complimentary relationship between definitions of writing in school, in popular culture and opinion, and in everyday practice (Brodkey; Prior).

I conducted two narrative case studies between December 2011 and May 2013 with two adolescents. In my study, I integrated methods from rhetoric, composition, and writing studies with a narrative inquiry methodology, building co-authorization into the research relationship and utilizing digital composing tools in order to disrupt the limitations and exclusivity of a traditionally single-authored and print-based space and in order to situate the stories of student writers at the center of my study. I also made use of a variety of dialogue-driven instruments: (1) oral histories and loosely-based interviews (Brandt; Selfe and Hawisher); (2) a writer's questionnaire that asked CRPs to describe "writing," the identity "writer," and themselves as writers; (3) Joy Reid's Perceptual Learning Styles Preference Questionnaire; (4) archives of CRPs' print and digital reading and writing artifacts; (5) artifact-based interviews (Halbritter and Lindquist); and (6) text-based interviews (Roozen).

Each case study offers literacy researchers and scholars within rhetoric, composition, and writing studies a view of how a particular adolescent has come to call, see, and think of him or herself as or as not a writer. Working outwards from Roz Ivanič's various modelings of writer identity, in my conclusion, I offer my own framework and language for discussing and researching the self-identities of student writers.