Date of Award

Winter 1997

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Patricia Sullivan


The little that has been written about expressions of religious experience in the field of Composition Studies focuses on the many ways religious belief places its adherents at a disadvantage in writing classrooms. We discuss in our journals and staffrooms only those religious conservatives who are most expressive of their beliefs. Many others sit in silence during discussions that may reveal anything of their beliefs, fearing to offend teachers and peers or to expose themselves to offenses from others. Unfortunately, these silent students contribute little or nothing to our understanding of the abilities of faith-centered students. Many are writing with distinction, engaging with ideas and with their peers with enthusiasm, and exercising skillfully the conventions of the classroom and academic discourse--in fine, performing in all the ways much of our discourse on faith-identified students suggests they cannot do. Additionally, many faith-identified students come to the academy with a critical consciousness postmodern compositionists are at pains to instill in their peers who identify more fully with dominant culture.

Within ongoing dialectics in Composition Studies about discourse, ideology, culture, and literacies, too little has been written about the discourse, cultures, and literacies of religious conservative students, and, more importantly, almost none of what has been written is written by such a student. This study begins to rectify that situation. Making use of Cultural and Literacies Studies theories and methods, I reexamine my own experiences as a twenty-three year old, working-class, displaced Appalachian, Pentecostal, first-year student entering the academy. Finally, I look at the debate between epistemic, expressivist, and postmodern pedagogies from the perspective of faith-centered students who (often) remain marginalized by any and all of these writing pedagogies.