Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Tanita Saenkhum

Committee Members

Harriet W. Bowden, Jeff M. Ringer


This study investigates the ways that second language (L2) writing specialists construct their identities in relation to the field of L2 writing. While scholarship has employed identity as a theoretical lens to analyze L2 writing specialists’ professional development, teaching philosophies, and/or research practices, such research has been limited to single institutions or teacher education programs. Through the use of a survey as well as eleven (semi-structured) interviews, this study explicates how identities are negotiated as L2 writing specialists research and teach across disciplinary, departmental, geographical, and sociopolitical contexts.I first propose my own operationalized definition of a transdisciplinary identity, which I view as contingent on a variety of factors. These include a specialist’s disciplinary background and experiences in the field as well as her or his definition of what constitutes a multilingual writer. I further demonstrate that teacher and researcher identities in L2 writing need to be viewed symbiotically, for the participants of this study often related the extent to which they considered themselves a language teacher, writing teacher, or L2 writing teacher to their research agendas and practices.This study additionally reveals how L2 writing specialists perceive both their professional identities and the field of L2 writing as sociopolitically steeped and continually negotiated. It illustrates the participants’ descriptions of the field of L2 writing, their networking practices, and their concerns for the field’s future, further explicating how L2 writing specialist identities are discursively constructed. From these results, I argue that L2 writing specialists chart, negotiate, and work across multiple disciplines when performing their identities as both teachers and researchers.

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