English Language and Literature ETDs

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This dissertation examines the intersections between the rhetoric of the DREAM Act and the discourse of the migrant activists, specifically DREAMers, affected by the Acts language. Through a hermeneutic approach combining a rhetorical, genre, and critical discourse analysis, I examine how the DREAMers respond to marginalizing textual features of the Act. DREAMers appropriate genres and rhetorical moves of the dominant discourse to combat four problem features of the DREAM Act, namely the criminalizing nature, the erasure of the affected subjects (migrants), the taking away of agency from the affected subjects (migrants), and the propagation of xenophobic racism. Often fraught with limiting language, the DREAM Act is at once the most comprehensive progressive immigration legislation and a heavily weighted document that further marginalizes migrants through those four problem areas. I employ various frameworks to examine the intersections between the discriminatory rhetoric of the DREAM Act and the discourse of DREAMers affected by the Act's language. Through a polyvocalic approach combining a rhetorical, genre, and critical discourse analysis, I examine how DREAMers respond to marginalizing textual features of the proposed act, the counter genres DREAMers produce, and the metadiscourse surrounding those genres. I locate the migrant activist as the foremost expert on immigration policy and as the agent of discursive change. Because the genre-specific voice and style of legislative texts, such as the DREAM Act, construct racial and ethnic identities and reify problematic ideologies, a deep reading of the language used in federal policies can elucidate the manner in which DREAMers respond to how undocumented persons are positioned as potential citizens and students, or how policy shapes activism and in turn how activism shapes policy. This dissertation informs the way compositionists teach writing to undocumented, multilingual writers, particularly Latina/o student populations whose issues are most reflected in the activism of the DREAMers. I argue for a critical pedagogy based on migrant activist genres and in the Writing Across Communities (WAC2) model that provides ways for undocumented students to advocate for themselves in writing at their institutions and in their communities. Finally, I call for a shift in Writing Program Administration (WPA) with a focus on issues of race and ethnicity in WPA work. While avoiding the assimilationist tendencies of this appropriation, by using these genres and rhetorical moves as the basis for programmatic shifts, pedagogy, and WAC2 initiatives, the migrant activist WPA may create changes in composition programs to best serve migrant undocumented students and to focus the composition classroom centered on the ideals of translingual, transculturalism, and transnational citizenship.'

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Chamcharatsri, Pisarn

Second Committee Member

Vasquez, Irene

Third Committee Member

Benz, Steve

Fourth Committee Member

Guerra, Juan




dream act, migration, immigration, discourse analysis, multilingual composition, race and composition, rhetoric, cultural rhetorics, composition, translingualism, transcultural citizenship, transculturalism, transational citizenship

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