Date of Award

Spring 2021

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Cristy Beemer

Second Advisor

Christina Ortmeier-Hooper

Third Advisor

Karen Collins


“Composition as Bodily Rhetoric: A Multimodal Understanding of Student-Athlete Literacy Practices” examines aspects of the lives, scholarly identities, and different writing that student-athletes engage in while on the field for their sport and off the field in their academics. Utilizing embodied rhetoric in communication and forms of technical writing, I challenge the notion that academics and athletics are working toward contradictory aims. Through examining the embodied learning within the writing process and drawing connections between writing studies and sports discourse, my work illuminates the complexities of the composing processes of student-athletes and examines how they can bring these advanced composing skills back to the classroom. This research contributes to the larger field of Composition and Rhetoric by expanding its original notion of what it means to compose and how we define communication. Although this topic specifically examines communication within student-athlete literacy practices, my research is widely applicable to all embodied learners as a whole and acknowledges the overlooked literacy practices of what are traditionally labeled as nontraditional students. As a result of this work, I have discovered that student-athletes are highly skilled in what I have termed, “Athletic Adaptive Literacy.” Athletic Adaptive Literacy is the ability to read the rhetorical situation within their particular sport and anticipate the moves needed in order to have a more effective outcome. Sports discourse is necessarily highly adaptive and student-athletes need to constantly be considering the multiple outcomes within a game and the multiple potentialities within their movements. These potentialities can be quickly changed and reformed based on a large number of criteria. I assert that student-athletes are able to assess the situation in ways that show them to be highly skilled and highly adaptive embodied learners.