Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Debra Jacobs.

Keywords

Rhetoric, Pedagogy, Ideology, Masculinity, Femininity, Binary

Abstract

The increasing presence of Chinese international graduate students in American higher education has mandated a closer examination on their multi-faceted life. Their different ways of writing, learning, teaching, and conceiving gender have provoked numerous scholarships vehemently exploring and significantly shedding light on the myriad differences as well as commonalities between American and Chinese cultures. However, they have been repeatedly stereotyped in various discourses where binary thinking and essentialism are still prevalent. In contrastive rhetoric, Chinese students are dichotomozied as feminine, indirect, reader-responsible, and collectivist writers against Western writers who are masculine, direct, writer-responsible, and individualistic.

This binary thinking is reinforced in sociology where Chinese students are dichotomized as submissive, quiet, uncreative, and feminine learners as opposed to the rebellious, loud, creative, and masculine American learners. These binaries are echoed further in the dichotomy between an authoritative, teacher-centered, and traditional Chinese composition teacher identity and a liberatory, student-centered, and nontraditional American composition teacher identity. Deeply entrenched in these various dichotomous views is the Western dichotomy about femininity and masculinity. Despite the constant critique from various disciplines, dichotomous views of gender persist, opposing directly to the complementary notion of femininity and masculinity in Chinese culture, and consequently leading to misconceptions about Chinese subjectivity in U.S.

Reconstructing Writer Identities, Student Identities, Teacher Identities, and Gender Identities: Chinese Graduate Students in AmericaPeiling ZhaoABSTRACTThe increasing presence of Chinese international graduate students in American higher education has mandated a closer examination on their multi-faceted life. Their different ways of writing, learning, teaching, and conceiving gender have provoked numerous scholarships vehemently exploring and significantly shedding light on the myriad differences as well as commonalities between American and Chinese cultures. However, they have been repeatedly stereotyped in various discourses where binary thinking and essentialism are still prevalent. In contrastive rhetoric, Chinese students are dichotomozied as feminine, indirect, reader-responsible, and collectivist writers against Western writers who are masculine, direct, writer-responsible, and individualistic.

This project argues that these misconceptions and binaries have produced consistently devastating effects on Chinese students and further demobilized them from acculturating themselves into the dominant discourse in the United States. To deconstruct these socially, culturally, and ideologically constructed binaries, this work uses scholarship on subjectivity and identity by Michael Foucault and Homi Bhabha to conceive how identity is formed in a culture and transformed in a cross cultural context; it also draws heavily on scholarship in rhetoric, composition, and feminist studies to delineate how Chinese students writer identity, student identity, teacher identity, and gender identity are formed and transformed. The goal of this work is to advance a complementary thinking to advocate new conceptions about Chinese students various identities and ultimately to allow Chinese students to assume more active agency in their identity transformation process in the U.S.

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