This thesis examines how graduate student teachers (GTA's) employ agency in order to establish and perform professional identities. Understanding agency as interactional, performative, and acting in a way "unintended by power" (Butler, 1997, p. 15), this thesis examines the spatial practices and performances of a graduate student teacher through a mixed methods approach combining video recordings with autoethnography. This project begins by using Lefebvre's (1991) social imaginary to examine the potent arguments being made to and about GTA's from their shared office, using visual rhetorical analysis to examine how this space communicates ideas of identity and place that work at rhetorical purposes counter to the performances GTA's are employing within that space. Exploring how GTA's respond to the social imaginary within space, this thesis conducts an analysis of the tactics employed, using De Certeau (1984) as a framework. Graduate student teachers use spatial practices and performances to make do with the space and the power allotted to them; however, they employ key tactics such as altering body position and vocal tone to turn interactions with students and with each other into dynamic moments for the production of agency. Finally, this thesis argues that, while GTA's use tactics and spatial practices to negotiate the performances and spaces allotted to them, their agency is temporal and limited. Departmental investment in relationships with GTA and integrating them further into the life of the department through apprenticeship can bolster the tenuous agency of the GTA.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Writing and Rhetoric
English; Rhetoric and Composition
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Pierson, Caitlin, "Neither Teacher nor Scholar: Identity and Agency in a Graduate Teacher's Life" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5994.