Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Bill Muth

Second Advisor

Courtnie Wolfgang

Third Advisor

Ross Collin

Fourth Advisor

Kurt Stemhagen


The purpose of this dissertation is to provide a posthuman perspective of adult second language and literacy learning using the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and his collaborative work with Félix Guattari, Masny’s (2005/6) multiple literacies theory or MLT, and DeLanda’s (2016) assemblage theory. Thinking with these scholars, I employ a post-qualitative, posthuman MLT conceptual framework to study literacy as a process that flows through and connects with globally-diverse students, languages, worldviews, and texts in the assemblage of adult education, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classrooms. I posit this assemblage as a remarkable and important context for literacy research because of its heterogeneity and potential to produce creative expressions of multiple literacies. With the MLT framework, I explore expressions of multiple literacies as emergent multilingual subjectivities that deterritorialize commonsense worldviews about adult second language and literacy learning. I use observations and student work as data to map a posthuman perspective of adult education to address three research questions: (1) How might we use an MLT framework to explore multiple literacies in adult education ESOL classrooms? (2) With an MLT framework, how are multiple literacies expressed in adult education ESOL classrooms? (3) What are the benefits and implications of an MLT perspective for the field? This project offers a counter-story about the research context and problematizes qualitative inquiry by asking questions and raising problems that might otherwise be invisible. What emerges is a feminist practice of immanent ethics with important implications for the field of adult literacy and second language learning.


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