Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Rhetoric, Writing and Discourse Studies

Committee Director

Kristi Costello

Committee Member

Kevin DePew

Committee Member

Michelle Fowler-Amato

Committee Member

Jay O’Toole


Many Basic Writing students have stories which are informed by traumas, othering, and marginalization. Finding pedagogies which address students’ stories, in addition to meeting academic goals, is crucial. Sometimes, students question how improving their reading and writing skills can help them navigate other areas of their education and experiences, especially their lives outside of academia. I have worked to create a kairotic pedagogy which invites students to read and write ‘the word and the world’ (Freire, 1970; 1988). Using Contemplative Classroom Pedagogies, I attempted to follow Freire’s (1992) call to make “teaching a creative act, a critical act, and not a mechanical one” (p. 85). I saw in the data from the student participants the stories of young adults who have been harmed by labels but who are willing to try on new language, skills and tools in an effort to belong to the university community. I saw students who, at the beginning of the semester, described themselves as “bad writers,” “poor students” and “struggling,” become students who analyzed their writing in detail with rhetorical sophistication, appropriated strategies and language, and supported one another through an array of academic and life challenges.

The intersections of bodies, stories, texts, practices, breath and mindfulness in the Basic Writing classroom, is a constellation of practices, a community woven together by cultural rhetoric. If we end the use of language which inflicts harm to and exclusion of students, and mindfully integrate words and ideas which are positive and encouraging in the classroom, we can mitigate the harmful effects of imposed labels and language. In doing so, we can create opportunities for all students to learn, interact and grow, at their own pace, based on their own needs and stories, and without casting some students and experiences in a more positive light than others.


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