Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


English Language and Literatures


College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

John Muckelbauer


In their 2010 Composition Studies article, Laurie Gries and Collin Brooke observe, “constrained writing has been underappreciated” in the composition classroom (21). Taking seriously the potential value of constraints in pedagogical practice, this project executes a cross-disciplinary examination (drawing from design theory, experimental poetry, literary theory, composition, and rhetorical theory) of the various occurrences of, and approaches to, constraints and their influences on the ways we think and write. This investigation reveals that constraints create the conditions under which students can become productively defamiliarized to their thinking and writing habits, encouraging them to encounter alternatives otherwise left unnoticed.

I suggest that these potentially defamiliarizing influences of constraints offer an approach to writing pedagogy that responds to Kelly Pender’s call for a techne that focuses on “writing itself” rather than writing for a singular purpose. Such an approach reveals a style of pedagogy that encourages students to experiment with writing’s potential rather than treating language like a transparent vehicle for meaning. This project concludes with some suggested methods for approaching a constraint-influenced pedagogy, offering categories for use, discussion of examples, and a list of potential constraints in the appendices.

Available for download on Tuesday, May 12, 2020