Writing and Rhetoric
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

2011 Theses

Maria Dabrowski

Getting Grammar Back into the Composition Classroom

Show Abstract » « Hide Abstract

This thesis explores the roles grammar has played with respect to composition instruction to determine what roles it can play and what needs it can satisfy for composition students today. Different types of grammar and the various methods of teaching them are discussed to in order to contextualize the ongoing debate regarding the role grammar should play in the composition classroom. Further contextualization of the debate is provided by tracing the relevant histories of both sides to where they presently stand. Answers to a questionnaire were collected from a small sample size of George Mason University composition instructors to determine their experiences with and attitudes toward grammar as a subject and grammar instruction in their own classrooms. This snapshot depicts a set of instructors willing to teach—and occasionally even enthusiastic about teaching—grammar in their composition classrooms, but ill-prepared to do so. Finally, positive and productive methods of teaching grammar are introduced to provide these current and future composition instructors with solid grounds for the inclusion of grammar in their classrooms and suggestions for how to incorporate it to the benefit of their students.

Farrah Dang

Buying Women's Work: Various Approaches to Transferring Childcare

Show Abstract » « Hide Abstract

This thesis employs theory and case-study methodology to examine variations on approaches to childcare that best enable women to join the non-domestic labor force. Employing women's non-domestic labor is crucial to ameliorating poverty and increasing a country's competitiveness. Yet, childbearing has been, and still proves to be, a keystone of labor division that hinders women's autonomy and ability to fully contribute. The divisions between perceived public (non-domestic) and private (domestic) spheres enhance the gender role conflict, mirroring the Marxist concepts of class creation, recognition, and struggle for autonomy. As an oppressed class realizes its oppression and gains public visibility, it gains valuable political power. Supporting this claim are historic moments where labor pool needs softened gender role rigidity—where women were able to work outside the home, advances in gender equality movements followed soon after. Therefore, with a methodological framework built on the public/private rhetorical divide and Gøsta Esping-Andersen's welfare regime clusters, this thesis determines which childcare policy configurations best supports female labor participation; side-effects of childcare policies are also noted. Social democrat approaches, such as Sweden's, prove most effective, treating childcare as a very public concern deserving of strong funding and protective legislation. The conservative/corporatist countries of Italy, Spain, and Germany, influenced by strong religious tradition, uphold the male-as-breadwinner family model, thus discouraging women from work and having more (or any) children. In the liberal economic regimes of the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, childcare needs are left to the family's discretion or private markets, which results in a you-get-what-you-pay-for system that places huge burdens on impoverished families. In the developed East Asian regimes of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, the mixture of strong Confucian family values and reliance on the private market and corporate social insurance schemes once again protects the male-as-breadwinner model; these countries currently experience the lowest birthrates in the world and rapidly shrinking taxation pools. Lastly, in the Latin American case studies of Chile and Uruguay, there exists a trend toward universal, public distribution of childcare services, but the lack of adequate public resources and parental leave laws overburdens mothers seeking to raise families and provide family income.

"At Work and At War: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Combat Job Descriptions on GoArmy.com"
James Graham

Show Abstract » « Hide Abstract

The Army has historically been subject to criticism for its recruiting practices, which even in peacetime have drawn fire from media, scholarly and advertising industry sources for the tendency to be one-sided at best and outright deceptive at worst. This study examines how the service currently represents combat jobs to potential recruits. I conduct a critical discourse analysis of the combat job descriptions on the Army's recruiting website goarmy.com to identify the means by which the Army's recruiting discourse constructs the modern combat soldier's work. In conclusion, I show how this discourse obscures the less-attractive aspects of the combat soldier's work, such as physical, moral and psychological hazards while foregrounding other, more attractive potential aspects of service, such as technology skills and training.

Print Friendly and PDF