Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dan J. Tannacito, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ben Rafoth, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Sharon K. Deckert, Ph.D.


The increased number of international ESL students has begun to show a wider range of responses to composition classes than ever before. While much research discusses struggles of L2 writers to fulfill assignments and evaluation, the research does not address the process of students‘ resisting authority, nor the roles of ideology, desire, and identity in the process of that resistance. The present study discusses behavioral accommodation and resistance of multilingual writers in ESL composition classes and posits how sociopolitical factors, such as identity construction and white prestige ideology, play roles in these reactions. Using qualitative research and a sociopolitical viewpoint as the theoretical framework, the study focuses on and analyzes behavioral patterns as well as discourses of ideology and identity of 12 Taiwanese ESL writers who enrolled in intensive English composition classes in Fall 2008 in the United States through students‘ classroom behaviors, interview transcripts, and writing samples. Modifying Canagarajah‘s (2004) scheme, results of this research indicate that various responses to ESL composition classes, including unreflective compliance, active, suppressive, or transformational accommodation, meta-aware adaptation, and passive or oppositional resistance, are manifested. More specifically, multilingual writers strategically adopt stances of accommodation and resistance, which often involves identity (re)construction and ideological implications. The findings show that these various responses are contingent and dynamic in nature, and that this contingency can be accounted for by the ESL composition students‘ identity claims as well as their white privilege ideology. I discuss how Taiwanese students‘ stances of accommodation and resistance sustain an ideology of racial, class, and linguistic privilege originally in Taiwan and modified in the United States. I also address how an essentialist view of teaching and learning reinforce multilingual writers‘ identity of inferiority and legitimate unequal power relations. Finally, I contend that students who position themselves as good Chinese writers are able to resist the ESL composition class and an identity of inferiority. I conclude by proposing new ways for composition educators to conceptualize ESL writing without devaluing any cultures or languages while advocating individual empowerment and social transformation.