Date of Graduation

5-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

Elías Domínguez Barajas

Committee Member

V. Jo Hsu

Second Committee Member

Sean P. Connors

Keywords

Digital media, Discourse, Food, Language, Literacy, Place, Social Media, Space, Spatiality, Twitter, Web 2.0 Media

Abstract

This dissertation seeks to provide a framework for engaging with two spatial concepts that have been foundational to theorizing literacy across time but have often been taken for granted as passive backdrops to the social action of literacy practice: the notions of “the local” and “the global.” By interrogating the histories, both past and ongoing, of these two spatial concepts as they are interwoven into the sociocultural paradigm of literacy theory, research, and pedagogy, this project identifies new ways that literacy researchers and educators can attend to spatial concepts so as to promote and encourage literacy research and learning that cultivates critical spatial perspectives at the nexus of “real-world” spatial realities and the new spatial dynamics created by Web 2.0 applications.

This work considers how ongoing conversations in popular culture, public discourse, and literacy theory and research have shaped understandings of familiar spatial concepts—specifically, the notions of “the local” and “the global”—as they are involved in people’s and organizations’ discursive and literacy practices. Using the examples of the discursive texts created by three local food organizations (LFOs) on Web 2.0 applications (specifically, interactive websites, blogs, and social media platforms), the integrated conceptual framing of social, spatial, and digital perspectives on discourse, rhetoric, and literacy is applied to analyze the ways in which each LFO projects a counternarrative to dominant discursive constructions of “the local” and “the global” for a network of audiences online.

In the context of Web 2.0 and the fluid boundaries between people’s “real” lives and virtual lives, this project documents three cases in which the particularities of discursive activities on the Internet create spatial conditions that are rhetorically leveraged to enact material change in the world. Given these observations, this study concludes by offering implications of this study’s understanding of the discourses of spatial concepts such as the local and the global for rhetoric, discourse, and literacy studies, and, specifically, literacy education and students’ social and professional futures.

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