In First-Year Composition, Teaching for Transfer is an evidence-based pedagogy that teaches students to write across contexts, a goal specified in the WPA Outcomes Statements for First-Year Composition (3.0). However, the implicit relationships shared between Teaching for Transfer, expressivism, and Rhetorical Genre Studies pedagogies are an underexplored area in the teaching of first-year composition. Given the presence of an implicit relationship between transfer, proficiency in rhetorical genres, and student voice in the WPA Outcomes, this thesis defines a dynamic interrelationship between pedagogies of transfer, expressivism, and Rhetorical Genre Studies. In an effort to foreground a comprehensive first-year composition pedagogy that teaches students to transfer writing knowledge across contexts and in the disciplines, this thesis develops the terminology of rhetorical agency to position students as agents of their own learning. As expressed by the transfer-rhetorical genre-voice triad, a pedagogy based in rhetorical agency redefines the expressivist notion of voice to teach students to position their writerly identities amid various rhetorical genres and contexts of writing, a socially situated and evolving communicative practice. Moreover, this thesis uses classroom research from an online first-year composition course to explore whether students can reimagine their voices outside of a purely personal and expressivist context.

Date of publication

Fall 12-7-2023

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Hui Wu, Tara Propper, Matthew Kelly


Master of Arts in English