Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Debra Jacobs, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carolyn DiPalma, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gary A. Olson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marilyn Myerson, Ph.D.


white privilege, racism, feminist theory, rhetoric, composition, Chéla Sandoval


This dissertation seeks to help teachers understand the ways that affect is tied to the dominant ideology of white supremacy in contemporary U.S. society. It argues that affect—the complex confluence of feeling and judgment—is bound intricately to racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, etc. In this work I attempt to deconstruct the social construction of affect that fuels dominant white ideology— what some scholars call whiteness—in the context of white teachers and students in the cultural studies writing classroom. With the lofty yet ultimately empowering goal of effecting anti-racist change in the classroom and in the profession, I trace affective dimensions of whiteness (such as fear, blame, defensiveness, and denial) revealed by white teachers and students. Clinging to the myths of meritocracy, individualism, and the American Dream, white teachers and students often unknowingly perpetuate dominance based on white privilege. In this work I offer a pedagogical theory informed by the work of a variety of feminist scholars who consider the complex and ultimately powerful concepts of love and care. By problematizing their work and my own, I argue for a thoroughly self-reflexive, critical, feminist, anti-racist pedagogy that works to foster vital critical awareness in our students (and in ourselves).