T J Geiger

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Writing Program


Rebecca M. Howard


advanced writing, composition, higher education, pedagogy, Writing major, writing studies

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Rhetoric


Within Writing Studies, the tension between pedagogy and theory, between teaching and disciplinary status receives much commentary. This dissertation explores that tension within the context of the undergraduate Writing major. I begin by reviewing scholarship about advanced composition, advanced Writing, and the Writing major. I read this literature in light of concerns about student subjectivity, authorship, and disciplinary participation. Through that reading, I explore the conflicted status of the student subject imagined within this literature. The subject I discern contains elements of what Susan Miller describes as the normative subject of composition as well as elements of a revised and politically astute Writing Studies. In chapter two, I demonstrate how these elements also appeared in the discourse of students who participated in the two-institution study of undergraduate Writing majors upon which the remaining chapters of this dissertation are based. In chapter three, I argue that when students articulated the work of the Writing major, they privileged relational, affective labor in ways that may potentially affirm arguments for the Writing major as a vehicle for disciplinarity as well as assert pedagogy's continued importance within Writing Studies even as its practitioners pursue academic professionalization. Chapter four examines students' discourse and their writing for scholarly, professional, and civic purposes in order to demonstrate how students contribute to-- and participate in--goals widely held within Writing Studies through academic, creative, and creative nonfiction forms. In the fifth and concluding chapter, I consider the implications of this research for scholarly writing practice and for writing pedagogy. I also acknowledge the limitations of this current project and outline an agenda for future research. Ultimately, this dissertation encourages a broad understanding of students' disciplinary contribution and participation.


Open Access