Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2019


The term ‘voice’ has been a pivotal metaphor in the fields of composition studies and applied linguistics, and it still has a strong implicit and/or explicit presence in the U.S. classroom. This critical case study examines 6 Saudi graduate student writers’ voices in various U.S. universities. Data were collected by analyzing texts of students’ papers and in-depth interviews with each participant. Using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as an overarching framework and analytical tool, this study examines the voices of Saudi students as they resist and/or perpetuate dominant ideologies both in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia when writing in their L2 in the US and eventually in their home context. Thereby, the voicing and/or silencing shift they experienced in L2 writing, especially in US universities, engenders vital questions of identity, power, and ideology. This study is, thus, key for reforming the educational language policies and sociopolitical situations that shape and/or constrain these voices. The study of these voices is particularly intriguing as such writers—myself included—come from an authoritative educational system (i.e., banking system) and often collective communities.

Findings of this study reflect how institutionalized powers, ideologies, and practices are vital factors, which have significant and complex effects on L2 writers’ voices. Writerly voice in almost all cases was found to be multiple and, for most participants, conflicting across situations and genres. In particular, writers in this study exhibited complex, juxtaposing voices shaped by their identities and their professional background and resisted the pedagogical practices in their home context. Through the course of their academic journey, participants of this study (re)constructed and negotiated agentive identities to ideologically become proactive members of their U.S. academic communities. These representative acts of their voices and discursive practices they inhabited were constrained and limited by some larger institutional factors. The implications of this study suggest a need for a theory of silencing and a pedagogy of voice in both ESL and EFL contexts.


L2 writing, Voice, Arab writers, CDA

Document Type




Degree Name

Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Ruth Trinidad-Galván

Second Committee Member

Dr. Cristyn L. Elder

Third Committee Member

Dr. Penny Pence

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Bethany Davila