Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English: English Studies

First Advisor

Joyce R. Walker


This dissertation responds to a lack of explicit conversation and pedagogical approaches inclusive of both life writing and interior individual experience in composition studies. Broken into three chapters, the first serves to consider the detrimental impact composition studies has on interiority when it equates the internal with expressivism (Bishop; Newkirk; Gradin; Murray). This chapter focuses on the life writing of Donald Murray, a composition scholar pivotal to one-on-one conferencing and the process movement in composition. This chapter considers how elements of Donald Murray’s work—aloneness, one-to-one relational, and vulnerability—might overlap with introverts and highly sensitive people. If Murray is dismissed, then, it stands to reason, so might be introverts and highly sensitive people. Chapter 1 reimagines Murray and his work, claiming that the imaginal and interior relational experiences we have are intrinsically valuable and that they have transfer into the more traditional spaces we view as social and relational. The second chapter puts pedagogical form and experiential visibility to the thoughts from Chapter 1. Chapter 2 centers student voice from an Advanced Composition course I taught as “Bearing Witness through Life Writing.” How do students respond when life writing is centered in a composition course and how do they take up what we have too long made contradictory, including personal/societal, interior/exterior, and affect and critical thinking? In the final chapter, I move from an affective-relational pedagogy in an explicit life writing space to an affective-relational pedagogy in a course about joy. Do the elements previously listed stand up in such a differently themed course? Does joy carry academic value? Can a personal and societal, interior and exterior, affective and critical approach to joy also be inclusive of the trauma and challenges faced in and around the students engaging in the subject matter? The findings described in this dissertation have implications for teacher education, for composition and life writing, and for anyone looking to take up a more relational and dialogical approach to their personal and professional lives.


Imported from ProQuest Combs_ilstu_0092E_11534.pdf


Page Count