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The Ends of Literacy Education: Evangelical Protestantism and the Nineteenth-Century Origins of Contemporary Writing Instruction

Glascott, Brenda Marguerite (2007) The Ends of Literacy Education: Evangelical Protestantism and the Nineteenth-Century Origins of Contemporary Writing Instruction. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation examines stories of transformation integral to representations of nineteenth-century American evangelical literacy instruction: transformations of literacy students into Christians and transformations of literate Christians into critics of authority. In particular, I describe how nineteenth-century evangelical literacy education was represented as a powerful engine of change for the literacy student and the student's community in novels, letter writing manuals, and tract society literature. As I read these texts, the historical representations of evangelical literacy instruction present this instruction as a two-step process of transformation in which, first, the student is transformed and, second, the student affects transformations on the people in his/her community . In unearthing these stories of transformation I am able to construct an overlooked history in which literacy and the literary intertwine with evangelical Protestantism. This history is valuable not only for what it tells us about the past, but it also sheds light on the assumptions we make today about the transformative potential of literacy education. I demonstrate, for instance, that these narratives of transformation have present-day analogues in secular, scholarly debates about transforming composition students into activists and policy-makers. In particular, I examine the metaphors and narratives composition scholars use to characterize the means by which composition courses are thought to prepare students to engage with "public" spheres.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Glascott, Brenda
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFlannery, Kathrynflannery@pitt.eduFLANNERY
Committee MemberStrickland,
Committee MemberGlazener, Nancyglazener@pitt.eduGLAZENER
Committee MemberCarr, Stephenscarr@pitt.eduSCARR
Date: 19 September 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 7 June 2007
Approval Date: 19 September 2007
Submission Date: 18 July 2007
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: composition; incidents in the life of a slave girl; literacy studies; literary studies; maria cummins; our nig; religion and literacy; religion and literature; susan warner; the lamplighter; the wide wide world
Other ID:, etd-07182007-133136
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:52
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:46


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