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"Who is 'you'?": teaching authentic approaches to audience and genre in first-year composition




Crowe, Sara, author
Souder, Donna, advisor
Eskew, Doug, committee member
Lopez, Derek, committee member

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Ours is a highly digitized society, and accordingly, so are the daily practices of communication in composition classrooms. Students of the digital age bring with them a new and continually evolving language into their college writing, which, while it is indicative of the change in language processes, can be problematic. The impetus for this thesis developed through my experiences teaching first-year composition. Frustrated with the ambiguity of audience in student writing, I would ask students in one-on-one conferences "who is 'you'?" in order to create the opportunity to discuss specific directives of audience. What I came to realize was how often their rhetorical situation changed due to social media and other forms of instant communication. If and when the digital language that forms through social media interferes with the development of student identity and authorial agency as a result of a lack of comprehension to an identified audience. Digital Natives must be approached as multilingual English language learners because they carry with them similar code-switching tendencies into the classroom, which means that it is imperative that recent trend to incorporate blogs and other methods of digital writing be integrated in the classroom as ways to connect students to the language with which they are most familiar. Through the inclusion of digital media in composition classrooms and a careful articulation of the rhetorical situation, students can begin to gain more agency through their writing. Compositionists will be better equipped to prepare students for their collegiate careers in the formative years during enrollment in first-year composition by including narrative, literary, linguistic, and rhetorical traditions in the classroom.


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rhetorical situation


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