Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



While much scholarship has considered Deborah Brandt’s concept of sponsors of literacy, there remains a need to consider relationships between literacy sponsors and larger implications of literacy sponsorship at national and institutional levels. Utilizing academic theories, U.S. federal government budgets and financed reports, and discoursal analysis, this dissertation investigates literacy sponsorship at the federal, postsecondary institutional, postsecondary institutional writing programmatic, and individual levels to tease out how, and in what ways, through “enabling” and “supporting” literacy these sponsors also” regulate, suppress, and withhold literacy” (Brandt 166). Rhetorical analysis determines that, at the U.S. federal level, literacy is promoted as a means to economically compete on a global scale. An analysis of diversity initiatives that do not address literacies learned in class at postsecondary institutions reveals this market-centered, or neoliberal, aspect, which is reflected through promotion of competition. Similarly, at the writing program level in postsecondary institutions, investigating assessment practices that erase labor in favor of competition reveals a neoliberal bent in literacy sponsorship; however, a way to expose the ideological nature of literacy’s values becomes apparent in disclosing the relationships and discussions that occur around literacy and writing program assessment. Alternatives to literacy that primarily promote neoliberalism can be found in a particular type of cyborg writing that urges individuals to question basic assumptions about reified ideologies. The dissertation recommends analyzing literacy sponsorship at larger governmental levels (such as international) and smaller levels (such as state or regional) to further understand how literacy is influenced by neoliberalism.



Committee Chair

Weinstein, Susan D.