Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English and Writing Studies



First Reader/Committee Chair

Rowan, Karen


­­This project is based on my experiences and reflections as a novice instructor on implementing educational practices which center a critical, feminist, anti-racist pedagogical approach in a first year composition course. Using my own experiences of teaching FYC as a central focus, this project will collect data through teacher-reflective journals. Those journals will be focused on how radical pedagogy shapes my approaches to teaching and how I experience/implement that approach in my day-to-day practices. In doing so, this project aims to address the persistent gap between theory and practice, particularly in the context of novice educators’ experiences in a FYC class. The primary goal of this project is to offer insights in how the field might better guide educators who are committed to radical, critical, feminist, and anti-racist pedagogies to enact those pedagogies from the start of their careers, rather than having to learn how to teach the “traditional” way first, only to have to unlearn those approaches later.

While the 1974 CCCC/NCTE resolution “Student Rights to Their Own Language” is considered a foundational text in the composition field, that resolution has yet to become a reality (Horner et al., Hudley and Mallinson, Kinloch, Lovejoy) and the privileging of “standard English” continues to live on in many composition classrooms, to the detriment of all students. The composition field has long acknowledged such educational practices uphold linguistic prejudice, institutionalized racism and other caustic hegemonic ideologies (Baker- Bell, Jones Stanbrough, and Everett, Rawls, Young,). Laura Greenfield proposes a radical pedagogical praxis which would destabilize institutionalized forms of oppression, examine the politics behind writing and help students critically analyze how power/oppression is working in their own lives and in their language use. That praxis would be characterized by explicitly questioning language hierarchies (Inoue, Young, Lippi-Green), changing harmful grading practices (Poe and Inoue, Elbow, Shor) and centering scholars of color. A radical teaching praxis must be deeply critical (Freire, Shor, Giroux), as that pedagogy has long been looked at as a way to counter harmful hegemonic educational practices.

The composition field is flooded with calls to reject harmful teaching practices yet, the field is also not preparing its teachers to do so. Mosher calls training in the understanding of linguistic diversity “far from wide spread”(2) in teacher preparation and in higher education as a whole. The theorization of the need to change these practices “has far outpaced pedagogical practices for advancing this proficiency in classroom” (Canagarajah). The onus lies entirely upon the novice educator to put these practices into action, without any overt professionalism training on how to do so.

Building from Greenfield and Freire’s work and undergirded by Inoue’s question of “how can we language so that people stop killing each other”, this project will explore the experience of designing and implementing a class that sits at the intersection of teaching writing and pursuing social justice via equitable educational practices. It will contribute to bridging the gap between the call to action and the actual practical application of that call.