The making of a modern scholar: Class and the academy as configured through the words of working class scholars
AuthorChurch, Lori Ann
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis project speaks to those with broad research interests in rhetorical studies, the ethnography of working class students and scholars, and the role of socioeconomic class in education. In this dissertation, I take as the object of my study two groups of primary sources---the autobiographical rhetorical pieces that appear in a set of five main books of essays by and about working class people and postings to a national working class academic listserv. My purpose in examining these texts is to compare definitions and experiences of "working class scholars" as conveyed by the writers and to explicate and analyze these definitions and rhetorical strategies. This study argues for the existence of a shared discourse among working class intellectuals that developed from the autobiographical essays the scholars created for a core set of published texts, the working class listserv, and additional related texts. These shared narratives give insight into working class scholars' beliefs, actions, education and worldviews as the writers attempt to understand the ways class has acted on their lives and their scholarship. On a larger scale, this study investigates how people tell stories about themselves and how these stories evolve over time to become stronger and more similar to each other, the longer the discourse exists. In their discourse, the working class academics give voice to members of an emerging and identifiable common discourse. Texts in this discourse include commonalties of form and thematic content that circulate freely among members even though the discourse community is widely dispersed geographically. The working class writers use a common language to characterize their experiences and to speak meaningfully to each other about them. Exploring the classed discourse and difficulties expressed in these texts sheds light on American class structures, and suggests ways in which universities might better serve and retain working class people.
Degree ProgramGraduate College