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Monica Baldonado-Ruiz PhD Defense: 'Testimonio en Nepantla: Personal Narrative in the Secondary ELA Classroom'

Committee:   Jessica Early (chair), Christina Saidy, Sybil Durand, Lee Bebout.  ::  ABSTRACT: This qualitative classroom-based study investigates the writing practices, choices and reflections of Latinx high school students during an instructional unit on writing testimonio. The study is grounded in a sociocultural theory of writing and draws from LatCrit and Testimonio scholarship to understand how writing about self as testimonio shapes the writing practices of ethnically and linguistically diverse student populations, specifically Latinx, urban youth. This dissertation study examines how testimonio may be used in the ELA classroom as a syncretic written text, meaning a text created in community with feedback from peers and instructors, and made public. More specifically, I am interested in the ways testimonio, as a written genre, creates space for a culturally sustaining form of personal memoir within the ELA curriculum to provide Latinx students the opportunity to share their own lived experiences and stories. Further, the study serves as a counter narrative to the systemic erasure of students’ lived experiences, home languages, stories, and the stories of their communities in classroom spaces. I come to this study as a first-generation Chicana, English educator, and qualitative researcher working to counteract an education where my culture and lived experiences were never reflected in my formal literacy learning. To that end, I examine how a testimonio project serves as a student-driven approach to teaching writing and as counter to the test-driven, formulaic, and impersonal writing forms that currently dominate writing instruction in secondary schools. Testimonio is an example of culturally proactive and sustaining practices of teaching and learning to write that invites students into the classroom writing space as community members in their own right, beyond the norms and expectations of the dominant culture.

This is a virtual event:

Sheila Luna
Monday, Apr. 12, 2021, 11 a.m.