Date of Award

8-5-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Gian S. Pagnucci, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Patrick Bizzaro, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Sharon K. Deckert, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Michele Eodice, Ph.D.

Abstract

This dissertation text communicates intertextually with Laura Mangini’s dissertation: Collaborative Dissertations in Composition: A Feminist Disruption of the Status Quo. Both of our dissertation texts are the products of one dissertation study. As co-researchers, Laura and I enacted what we are calling a cooperative dissertation study—a social constructionist narrative inquiry that responded to the following primary research question: How does a collaborative dissertation challenge the status quo in composition? In addition, we explored another main research question: When two people collaborate on a composition dissertation, what experiential data can they construct via a narrative inquiry? As researcher-participants, we collaborated throughout the processes of researching and writing our five dissertation chapters, we co-authored two separate dissertation texts that shared the same data, and we situated both of our “independent” dissertations as intertextual artifacts that cooperated with each other through a shared epistemology, methodology, and advocacy for collaborative dissertations in composition. For our data collection, we interviewed 14 participants; we placed these participants into three categories: (a) Collaboration Advocates, (b) Recent Ph.D. Graduates, (c) Higher Education Administrators. In addition, the nature and scope of our narrative inquiry positioned us as participants within our own study. We used three primary methods to collect our data: roundtable discussion, semi-structured interviews, and emailed follow-up questions. Our participant interviews and experiential data as co-researchers reveal that composition’s resistance to a collaborative dissertation is real, contextual, and can be negotiated. Our data reveals that composition’s ambiguous disciplinary location between the humanities and social sciences deepens the resistance to collaborative dissertations. Our data suggests this resistance is also a result of composition’s patriarchal, systemic, and social privileging of the dissertation’s purpose as a credential that proves one person alone can write a dissertation. Our narrative inquiry illustrates the meaning-making processes and products we enacted to challenge this resistance. Among our data’s myriad themes, we problematized composition’s understandings of collaboration and knowledge transfer along with the material realities of negotiating motivation, postpartum depression, and social belonging within the context of completing a dissertation.

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