Theses Doctoral

Troubling a Troubled Role: A Poststructurally Inflected Autobiographical Inquiry Into “Literacy Specialist”

Collins, Robin R.

In the United States, Literacy Professional roles are becoming increasingly popular in public middle and high schools. Presumed to impact student achievement in literacy as well as impact teachers’ continued professional learning and growth through job-embedded experiences, the role is increasingly utilized towards the adoption of policies, practices, and curriculums. As such, literacy professionals are increasingly positioned as change agents. As it is shaped by audit culture, neoliberal ideology, and accountability/standardization rhetoric, considerations of professional subjectivities of literacy professionals who are bombarded with impossibilities of working toward those neoliberal, measurable outcomes of “more efficient and effective” are difficult to find in the current body of literature. Thus, the professional identities and subjectivities of ‘Literacy Specialist’ is a fruitful site for investigation.

Feminist poststructural theories of discourse, power, identity, and subjectivity are utilized to re/view possible ways knowledge, “truth,” and subjects are produced in language and cultural practices. Since poststructural theories foreground our awareness of structuring impulses and their relation to the social order, this research seeks to explore my own interpretations of “lived experiences” in a literacy specialist role in order to work the tensions by analyzing constructions of self historically and contextually within the role. To do so, poststructurally influenced autobiographical modes of inquiry were utilized. Such versions of autobiography not only challenge Enlightenment assumptions about autobiography as a full and “accurate” representation of a “self,” but also allow for an exploration of my own subjectivities within the discursive regimes in which the role of “literacy specialist” typically operates.

This research is situated within a perspective that pushes back on assumptions about research and methodology which give the notion of findings purchase. Rather, I offer “unconclusions” regarding the ways structures of Response to Intervention, literacy practices, and literacy curriculum operate through dominant discourses to position both literacy professionals and students. Tracing discourses in such a way opens spaces to re/view processes of power/knowledge relations at work. Further, by tracing those discourses through to the subjectivities of teachers and students, spaces are opened to ask questions about literacy and literacy practices that have perhaps not previously been considered.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Miller, Janet
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 27, 2020