Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


English Language and Literatures

First Advisor

Hannah Rule


An ongoing discussion for composition pedagogues is the relation of individuals’ identities and discourse histories in relation to academic discourses. In this thesis, I argue that academic discourse cannot be entirely separated from personal discourse, as individuals are always in conversation with their discoursal histories and identities. In order to better understand how students perceive their relationships to academic discourse, I analyze how First Year Writing (FYW) students experience the discourse of FYW— where they either intertwine their identities or we see their personal identities collide with the academic space. I used open coding to conduct a textual analysis of a set of 19 literacy narratives from an English 101 course I taught in the Fall semester of 2022. I expected students to reflect on their experiences in a wide variety of ways, but instead I found that students adopted one specific narrative archetype, constructing themselves as conquerors triumphing over the hardship of joining a new discourse by learning to embrace the genre norms of the group. Using these findings alongside my analysis of the literacy narrative prompt, I propose ways FYW instructors might alter the literacy narrative assignment to privilege exploration of students’ social, cultural, and linguistic identities over their written product.


© 2023, Laiken Elizabeth Harrigan