Term of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


College of Education

Committee Chair

John Weaver

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

Daniel Chapman

Committee Member 3

William Schubert

Committee Member 3 Email



The dissertation explores the problems that patterned and processed teaching and learning poses for implementing principles of critical pedagogy in English Literature courses. I apply multiple theoretical frameworks including literary theory, critical theory and post-humanism to place my own experiences amidst the on-going conversations about standardization and democracy. I draw upon the work of educational theorists such as Maxine Greene, Martha Nussbaum, Louise Rosenblatt, and Mary Aswell Doll to explore the ways that literature can enrich students’ lives and society, and Geneva Gay and Lisa Delpit to explore how cultural bias regarding linguistics can function when teaching literature and language in a standardized setting. I also refer to John Dewey, Paulo Freire, Gert Biesta, and bell hooks to explore the ways that current practices can compromise democratic values in the classroom, and post-human theorists, such as Hayles, Braidotti, and Weaver to explore the consequences of sacrificing these qualities as science and technology continue to change our environment. Within these speculative essays I analyze the works of fiction from authors, Colson Whitehead, Lesley Nineka Arimah, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, and various authors of fantasy series to discuss how speculative fiction can help us understand these concepts. Through fictionalized vignettes based on real classroom experiences paired with speculative essays, I attempt to make connections between perceived binaries of fact and fiction and science and literature. I provide a discussion focused on the power of fiction to develop a sense of identity, both collective and individual, build empathy, and foster critical thinking skills, and address how these are lost when measurement takes precedence over learning opportunities that allow for exploration and creation. The study particularly addresses the ways science fiction and fantasy work to engage students while building important literacy skills necessary for success in the discipline. The inquiry explores the struggle teachers feel when attempting to meet district and state testing requirements while also providing students with meaningful learning opportunities.

Research Data and Supplementary Material