Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




English (MA)


The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the ways in which instructors have the potential to reinforce or disrupt systems of oppression and power in the composition classroom through language, writing, and rhetoric. I draw upon pedagogical and rhetorical theorists, to analyze how language closely interacts with identity and how it impacts an individual's understanding and perception of reality. I consider how texts utilize language to communicate normative citizenship and challenge students' conceptions of the world around them, and how to teach from an anti-racist perspective that incorporates critical pedagogy and does not focus solely on minoritized communities’ trauma narratives. Chapter one connects the social construction of language and how it is utilized as an institutional tool to enforce systemic oppression and destabilize a student’s reality. Chapter two focuses on the inequity composition courses and universities perpetuate, and the potential pitfalls of overfocusing on trauma narratives in anti-racist pedagogies– ultimately revealing that an equitable classroom where students’ discourse communities are respected is the most optimal space to encourage critical literacy and lifelong inquiry.

Access Type

Open Access