Date of Award

Fall 12-12-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

George Pullman

Second Advisor

Michael Harker

Third Advisor

Ashley Holmes


Basic Writing scholarship has been locked in a materialist worldview that fails to serve the immediate needs of students, instead focusing on long-term goals that yield underwhelming results. This dissertation demonstrates the conflict between the materialist worldview and the needs of students by looking at the history of Basic Writing scholarship, focusing on Mina Shaughnessy, Min-Zhan Lu, Lisa Delpit, David Bartholomae, and the 1974 “Students’ Right to Their Own Language.” To resolve these views into something coherent and actionable, I use Kenneth Burke’s dramatism, specifically the ratios related to scene, to analyze David Bartholomae’s “The Tidy House: Basic Writing in the American Classroom.” This analysis reads and rereads Bartholomae, treating his work as archetypal, to demonstrate the potential for abuse any single worldview has. As an alternative to a totalizing worldview, I propose the multitude of worldviews captured in Burke’s dramatism as a means both of producing Basic Writing scholarship and evaluating student writing.


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