English Language and Literature ETDs


Gregory Haley

Publication Date



This dissertation is primarily concerned with describing a hermeneutic theory of composition pedagogy for the purpose of developing socially engaged, self-reflective, and critically conscious citizens of a democracy. This work examines the intersection of higher education and civic responsibility that has been the foundational motive of academics since the first schools were opened by Isocrates and Plato. The question now, as it has been since the days of Plato, is how to educate new citizens to become informed, engaged critics of their environments for the purpose of maintaining a healthy self governance and preserving the democratic ideals of equality, justice, and freedom. The foundational theorists for this work are John Dewey, Hannah Arendt, and Paul Ricoeur. Their hermeneutic understanding of human learning development and motivation towards action are crucial for understanding how to help students become self-reflective, socially engaged members of a free society. While each of these theorists and their views on educational pedagogies have been studied in depth, there has not been a study that examines the common heuristic of these three philosophers and the implications of a combined theory of hermeneutics for composition pedagogy.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Advisor

Kells, Michelle

First Committee Member (Chair)

Wood, Richard

Second Committee Member

Woodrum, Arlie

Third Committee Member

Paine, Charles




Hermeneutics, Rhetoric, Composition, Pedagogy, Dewey, Arendt, Ricoeur

Document Type