Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Claude M. Hurlbert, D.A.

Second Advisor

Gian S. Pagnucci, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gloria Park, Ph.D.


This narrative dissertation looks at students' writing, and discusses how, after 15 years of teaching, a first year composition teacher felt compelled to change her pedagogy. Having recently lost her nephew to murder and concerned about the anti-social climate in her home, Bermuda, the researcher implemented a pedagogy intended to encourage students' voices and a sense of hope. The researcher's student-centered pedagogy required students to write books about `what they were burning to tell the world,' as well as afterwords that, through the prism of hope, reflected on what they had written in their books. The data for the study included the students' completed books, their afterwords, interviews, and an email questionnaire. Seventeen students from 2 of the teacher/researcher's freshman writing classes volunteered to participate in this study. The topics explored by the students were varied and diverse. But because the concern of the researcher was for the violence in her community, the focus of this study is on those students' books that discussed violence, including their afterwords. The students wrote about the gun-related murders that have taken place in their island since 2003. In their books they address what they perceive to be the causes and effects of the violence, reflect on Bermuda as it was before the anti-social behavior, but they also express hope for change. Their writings show different perspectives of the violence, largely based on the impact that the violence has had on their own lives. The varying perspectives of the students' writings can be seen to be reflective of the various demographics in Bermuda.