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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

First Advisor

Lisya Seloni

Second Advisor

Susan Burt


Conceptualized as an educational action research project in college settings, this dissertation investigates the culturally situated and value-laden nature of business letters. Drawing on the contrastive rhetoric traditions of second language writing, the genre theories in three traditions of writing pedagogy, the decolonial theories in cultural studies, and speech act and politeness theories in intercultural pragmatics, the dissertation conducts a genre-specific contrastive rhetoric study of 21 model business letters of requests in the Bangladeshi and the U.S. school settings. It examines the lexico-grammatical choices made and the politeness strategies used in the letters’ references or subject lines, salutations, bodies (especially their beginnings and ends), and complimentary closes in an effort to determine what divergent values the letters represent. The study also investigates whether those values are cultural and/or colonial by looking at the letters’ social, cultural, and political contexts, mainly in Bangladesh, through a historical sociolinguistic study based on letter data. Finally, the dissertation builds on the pedagogical takeaways from the letter analysis by designing and implementing a genre-ethnography project with a letter writing component to show how the writing instructors in a U.S. first-year-composition program can help develop students’ critical genre awareness and prepare them to negotiate the value-laden nature of writing genres in a variety of real-life contexts.


Imported from ProQuest Rahman_ilstu_0092E_11784.pdf


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