Date of Graduation

8-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Graduate School

Advisor

David Jolliffe

Committee Member

Felicia Lincoln

Second Committee Member

Mounir Farah

Keywords

Education, Arab students, Cultural literacy, English as a second language, Language acquisition, Literacy, Multiculturalism

Abstract

This dissertation is a combination of ethnography and case study which describes the Social and cultural context of literacy acquisition among Arab students at the University of Arkansas. I examine the power relations that define this minority group in the larger Social context and describe how these relations shape, transform, and sometimes threaten their cultural identities in the classroom. The dissertation investigates the different Social and cultural factors that facilitate or obstruct their learning process, factors such as age, gender, religion, and marital status. It explains how the students' acquisition of literacy exists within a larger dynamic process of Social and cultural idenification, assuming that cultural identity is a dynamic Social construct that depends on the environment and setting. Finally, the dissertation describes the students' fears, hopes, and stereotypes, helping teachers recognize when there is a cultural problem and how to solve it in a culturally sensitive fashion.

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