English Ph.D. Dissertations


Through Their Lenses: Examining Community-Sponsored Digital Literacy Practices in Appalachia

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

Bonnie Berger (Committee Member)


In our current age of media ubiquity and evolving technologies it’s no secret that people all over the world are taking up new skill-sets and utilizing digital tools to tell stories and express themselves. Scholars in rhetoric and composition (Selfe, et al. 2012; Halbritter, 2013; Sheridan, Ridolfo & Michel, 2012) have been studying the ways digital media has allowed for rhetorical openings through the use of new media, and continue to debate how such composing affects writers both inside and outside of academic spheres. This dissertation research looks at a specific digital storytelling project, titled Hollow, to understand how residents in a small, Appalachian community are using digital tools and spaces to speak back to stereotypes and effect change in their community. These findings provide researchers and pedagogues in rhetoric and composition with a more thorough, contextualized portrait of how people are taking up and manipulating digital tools and spaces to understand their identity as citizens of a particular community and to better comprehend how they are using their new-found literacy practices to enact tangible changes in their community. Insights gained from such research can better inform us about the potential of digital tools and spaces, and how we might foster similar applications elsewhere in hopes to engage and understand the literate practices of those inside and outside of our classrooms.