The Path to Translingual: A History of the Globalization of English in Composition Studies

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2013-06-11
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Virginia Tech
Abstract

This dissertation is a history of the representations of linguistically diverse international students within composition studies. The project highlights some of the many terms that have been used to represent linguistically diverse writers, such as ESL, EFL, multilingual, and nonnative, tracing the path to the concept of translingualism currently used by composition scholars. This research responds to Paul Matsuda's argument in "Composition Studies and ESL Writing: A Disciplinary Division of Labor" that "[u]ntil fairly recently, discussions of English as a Second Language (ESL) issues in composition studies have been few and far between" (699). This dissertation contends that Matsuda overstates his claim when he argues that composition, as a field, has not been overly concerned with the topic of second language speakers. Indeed, this topic has been emphasized throughout the field's scholarship and has even contributed to the formation of the field itself.

Specifically, the dissertation analyzes the journals College English between 1939-1950 and College Composition and Communication between 1950-2013 to examine the conversations about multilingual writers and students in the field of composition. Through an analysis of these journals, it becomes apparent that discussions about international students in U.S. classrooms today have strong antecedents in the conversations of our past. And these conversations about international, linguistically diverse writers have been a continuous force in the creation and evolution of mainstream thinking in the field. By tracing these evolving conversations, the project demonstrates how the field of composition has reached the translingual moment currently researched by composition scholars. The dissertation concludes that translingualism, as a developing theory, still calls for more research that emphasizes pedagogical techniques that use a translingual approach to language.

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Composition, ESL, Language, Multilingual, Translingual
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