Reading, Writing, Rhetoric: A Rhetorically Emplaced Study of Writing Education in an Appalachian Region

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


This dissertation, Reading, Writing, Rhetoric: A Rhetorically Emplaced Study of an Appalachian Region, explores the themes of ideology, stereotypes, and rhetorical emplacement through a study of education in Southwest Virginia. In this project, I used two methods of data collection: historical research and interviewing. These two methodologies employed together construct a sweeping scope of Appalachian Virginia's experiences with rhetorical emplacement in relation to educational practices and ideologies by encountering some of the earliest stories told about the region and contemporary accounts of teachers who currently work in Appalachian Virginia. My main research questions ask how stories told about Appalachia have affected educational practices within the region, and to answer that question I sought out the history of the stories told about Appalachia through historical research, then, in order to attend to the present realities of the region, I interviewed high school English teachers who identify as Appalachian and work in Appalachian Virginia high schools. The historical and ethnographic methods I employed in this dissertation study allowed me to understand the circulation and variances of particular stories placed onto and developed within (Hsiung) the Appalachian region by first examining the historical interaction of the region with the stories about the region and then understanding how those narratives exist in the world today. By using grounded qualitative coding, I created codes from the historical data set—the codes were: isolation, language, education, expectations, culture, and literacy—and compared them to the interview transcripts, I conclude that while illiteracy has long been a stereotype of the region and one that Appalachians will likely combat for the foreseeable future, the teachers in my study build their pedagogies to support rhetorical thinking and rhetorical situation.



Rhetoric, Composition, Appalachia, Place-Based Pedagogy, Rhetorical Emplacement, Stereotypes