Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Elizabeth Dutro

Second Advisor

Kevin OÇonner

Third Advisor

Kira Hall

Fourth Advisor

Kris Gutierrez

Fifth Advisor

Cindy Cruz


Autobiographical digital storytelling (DST) is a burgeoning multiliteracy practice in in- and out-of-school spaces. Recently, education researchers have explored DST’s potential as a robust critical literacy tool for non-dominant youth to tell agentic counter narratives. A less explored area of youth DST practices relates to how authors account for audience (local and macro discourse) when composing digital autobiographies. Using feminist poststructural theory as a heuristic and analytical tool, I investigated the varying discourses youth authors engaged throughout their processes and products related to autobiographical DST.

The ethnographic data for this dissertation were collected in an English Language Arts high school classroom, African American Literature, over the course of four months across fall semester 2012. The three case study findings chapters illustrate three non-dominant students’ approaches to negotiating their subjectivity within the school context across multiple school spaces. The findings from this study complicate notions of agency; namely the case studies demonstrate how diverse youth of color negotiated multiple and competing discourses when narrating stories of the self in relation to a perceived peer audience. More specifically, each case provides a detailed analysis of how Darius, Malcolm, and Gabriel, negotiated local and macro discourses related to Black masculinity, salient intersecting subjectivities for each.

This study holds theoretical implications in establishing the importance of using poststructural feminist theories in combination with Critical Discourse Analysis of student processes and produced related to autobiographical storytelling by way of detecting the complex power relations youth navigate within the school context. Moreover, this study reports important implications regarding the utility of digital storytelling as a culturally responsive, multimodal, critical literacy practice that affords youth opportunities to draw on personally and culturally meaningful discourses (e.g., hip-hip music) as they compose digital representations in relation to local and macro discourse. Additionally, implications for English Language Arts practice encourage future examination of how youth author’s attentiveness to peer audience discourse demonstrate students’ facilities in composing narratives in relation to audience.