Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Debra Jacobs, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Gary A. Olson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Metzger, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shirley Toland-Dix, Ph.D.


Discourse community, Literacy, Dialect studies, Appropriation, Pedagogy


In this dissertation I intend to apply postcolonial theory to primary pedagogical and administrative concerns of the writing program administrator. Writing Program Administrators, or WPAs, take their responsibilities seriously, remaining cognizant of both the negative and positive repercussions of the pedagogical decisions that take shape in the scores of composition classrooms they administer. This dissertation intends to infuse the WPA position with the ethos of scholarly praxis by historicizing and contextualizing the field of composition, and by placing the teaching of writing within the historical memory of slavery and colonialism. Sound WPA research is theoretically informed, systematic, principled inquiry that works toward producing strong writing programs. This dissertation provides such inquiry, drawing the field's attention to the reality of postcoloniality and presenting an understanding of the work of composition as informed by and complicit in the history of racialized forms of oppression. From this context, the dissertation analyzes three major issues faced by the WPA: the debate over standardized discourse, the influence of the job market on pedagogical decisions, and the (de)politicizing of the composition classroom. In the following sections, these issues will be related directly to critical theories from postcolonial and composition studies that assist in articulating the issues of identity politics, hegemonic struggle, interpellation and interpolation, subaltern voice, and hybridity that are so crucial to writing program pedagogy and administration in the postcolonial age, for it is my argument that the writing classroom is a crucial site of contention in which the politics of identity are manifested as students appropriate and are appropriated by discourse.