Dissertation Defense Announcement
The College of Arts and Sciences announces the final Dissertation of
for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
on March 12, 2018 at 9:30 AM in Patterson Hall - 335
Advisor: Joseph G. Jones
The Linguistic Turn in Composition History and Students' Right to Their Own Language
ABSTRACT: The Linguistic Turn in Composition History and Students' Right to Their Own Language" examines the seventeen-year period of 1957 to 1974 to explore the role of the linguistic turn in making way for the acceptance of alternative dialects, affirmed with the Conference on College Composition and Communication's (CCCC) Students Right to Their Own Language Resolution (SRTOL) in 1974. Linguistics was instrumental in converting composition's perception of itself as a mere arbiter of mythical standards of language to a discipline with the potential to propel a societal shift in our understanding of the interconnectedness of culture, identity, and language. The linguistic perspective advocated by progressive scholars of the late mid-twentieth century invited a consideration that words and the way we use them are freighted with persuasive elements–elements containing touches of identity, tidbits of hidden meaning, traces of hegemony. It is from this viewpoint that the role of linguistics and composition intersect to form the central argument of this dissertation: the linguistic turn led to the SRTOL Resolution, and new perspectives in teaching writing that continue to shape college composition instruction in the twenty-first century. Using historiography, this project examines the major influences upon the initiation of the linguistic turn to better understand it in relation to the broader political and cultural events of that time period. Doing so further illustrates the parallel relationship of changes in American culture during the years under study with developments in composition instruction-particularly relative to African American students newly admitted to the academy following the end of institutional segregation. The linguistic turn created space for the SRTOL Resolution which ultimately influenced subsequent pedagogical theories regarding college composition instruction and acceptance of linguistic pluralism in college composition.