Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

David Coogan, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

David Golumbia, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Julie Gorlewski, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

William Muth, Ph.D.


Language, Literacy, and Conscientização in American Public Schools synthesizes poststructural language theory to critique literacy teaching and assessment norms in American public schools in order to theorize a pedagogy of racial and economic justice that embraces globalization and immigration. Chapter I creates a theoretical framework for language that rests firmly on both Lev Vygotsky’s and Jacques Lacan’s sociohistorical approach to language acquisition and language use. Mikhail Bakhtin’s work demonstrates the heteroglossic nature of discourse, while Antonio Gramsci politicizes this framework through an understanding of hegemony. Chapter II sketches ethnographic research on teaching practices of various American communities, focusing on ideology perpetuating through discourse. A cultural critique of public school economics and epistemologies determines that shortfalls in public education derive from discourse practices among economically and racially stratified lines, as well as the capitalistic intrigue for reform movements like charter schools. Chapter III turns to Paulo Freire, and his praxis of critical awareness through literacy, or, more simply: conscientização.


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Date of Submission