Daigle, Elizabeth Anne
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As part of their doctoral education and disciplinary enculturation, doctoral students need to learn how to write the diverse types of academic texts required of them as scholars. These texts exist in nested and dynamic contexts (Prior, 1994, 1998), and learning to write them includes as much knowledge of the content and language of the discipline as learning to navigate the field and processes of publishing. This dissertation presents part of a larger qualitative study and draws upon sociocultural studies of language and learning (Vygotsky, 1987, Wertsch, 1991, 1985) and composition (Smagorinsky, 2001, 1991) to inform the investigation of how doctoral students learn to engage successfully in the challenges of academic writing and public scholarship. Eleven participants enrolled in a literacy education department were interviewed twice on their experiences as writers and their specific processes for composing selected texts. All interview data were analyzed, and this dissertation presents a foundational argument for subsequent reports, focusing primarily on the student culture within the department that emphasizes the importance of publication and the ways different students learn to write within that context. Particular attention is paid to the strategic knowledge students use in order to leverage limited knowledge, experience, and power into a positive outcome–an outcome thatallows students to meet expectations of professors, editors, reviewers, and peers. These strategies are considered in terms of academic bullshit (Smagorinsky, Daigle, O’Donnell-Allen, & Bynum, 2010) and the relative merits of bullshitting and the term itself. This dissertation illustrates a range of learning opportunities within the department, with some students experiencing intense, detailed apprenticeship on content and strategies for producing and publishing texts, but some students receive little guidance or instruction on writing or engaging professionally in the disciplinary community. Strategic knowledge is often tacit and often not conveyed formally. While professors are valuable sources of this insider knowledge, students connected to their peers may share these strategies with one another; however, underlying competition among students can possibly limit students’ disclosure of tactical knowledge.