Date of Award

4-23-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Gloria Park, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Lynne Alvine, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Abstract

This dissertation documents the language and literacy histories of four multilingual Armenian immigrant women settled in the Los Angeles area of California. Via tools of linguistic (auto)biography and narrative inquiry, the participants worked collaboratively with the researcher to co-construct chronicles of their lives in multiple languages; the resulting narratives were then analyzed and interpreted through a critical, feminist lens to identify connections and intersections among the participants' gender, languages, and culture(s). Within the background chapters, Chapter One introduces the background of the study; Chapter Two presents a review of literature within Armenian and Armenian women's studies, research on multilingualism and multiple-language literacy, and narrative and linguistic autobiography in applied linguistics; and Chapter Three describes the study methodology, including details on the study's data collection methods (focused primarily on extensive individual interviews, logs to track the participants' present experiences with their languages and literacies, and analytical memos/researcher journal entries), the critical and feminist framework of the study, and the interpretive tools used to craft the analysis of the participant narratives. In keeping with the feminist aim of amplifying women's voices, the study data in Chapters Four through Seven are comprised of a narrative chapter for each participant. The final chapter presents the study findings, implications, reflections, and conclusions, and an afterword is then presented as an update on the participants' lives since the study's data collection period. Study findings include participant-focused situated meanings of terms relevant to the research questions (i.e. woman, literacy, language knowledge, and English) as well as salient themes within the narratives (i.e. the participants' roles as women in Armenian and Armenian-American culture, their literacy practices from childhood to adulthood, their positive positioning as language brokers within their community, their complex and dynamic roles along the continuum of privilege and marginalization, and an exploration of the diversity within the group of participants). Springboarding from these findings are a number of participant-, pedagogy-, and research-focused implications and inspirations; and the study concludes with researcher reflections on the research process, especially highlighting the transformative role that critical and feminist qualitative research has for all involved in the research act.

Share

COinS