Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Claude Mark Hurlbert, D.A.

Second Advisor

Gian S. Pagnucci, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gloria Park, Ph.D.


This dissertation asks can writing be taught in such a way as to encourage hope? This dissertation encourages writing teachers to keep hope in mind as they interact with students, craft pedagogical approaches for teaching writing, and when designing writing programs. It rests on the belief that by making a hopeful pedagogy, writing teachers will, in turn, inspire a more hopeful future for society. Using narrative inquiry, the dissertation merges story telling with theoretical research from the fields of composition, TESOL, philosophy, and psychology in order to understand the role of hope in human life, what it means to write with hope, and how to support hopeful writing in composition courses. This dissertation proposes hopeful writing theory for the composition course. Hope is a force that gives people the strength to negotiate their relationship with reality, or in other words, hope is the agentic force that motivates people to see the world as a place that they can affect rather than existing in a state of helplessness in which people find themselves unable to muster the power to change themselves and inspire positive, healthy change in others and in this world. Writing can be part of nurturing hope, and hopeful writing theory articulates how writing can be a hopeful activity. By composing, a person is capable of taking a dream and forming a clearer path towards what he or she hopes to achieve, create, and who he or she hopes to be someday. Writing can be a means to negotiate a person's relationship with the world as he or she learns to produce meaningful texts that help generate a hopeful perception of the social and physical reality we both inhabit and create, and given the right circumstances, the composition class can encourage such hopeful writing.