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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Theresa Austin

Second Advisor

Margaret Gebhard

Third Advisor

Yuki Yoshimura

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | Language and Literacy Education


The motivation for this research is the subordinated position of writing in Japanese language education. As many studies indicate, writing in Japanese language education is often perceived as a space for teachers to monitor learners’ acquisition of grammar structures and kanji (Hirose, 2015; Kumagai & Fukai, 2009; Ramzan & Thomson, 2013). Such discourse of writing conceives Japanese writers, especially elementary writers, as individuals who have little agency in making meaning. The purpose of my dissertation study is to explore alternative discourses of writing that position elementary Japanese language learners as agentive meaning-makers. For this inquiry, first, I explore literatures that inform this dissertation study. This literature review explores systemic functional linguistics, or SFL, which explicitly situates one’s meaning-making in a social context. This review also explores critical instantiations of SFL, which emerged across disciplines. Then, I design a conceptual framework that is essential for my inquiry. I revisit (critical) SFL theories of text and context, and weave them together with post-structuralist theories of identity to investigate collegiate Japanese language learners’ identity and their meaning-making. Based on this conceptual framing, I propose a new pedagogy. This pedagogy resides in literacy practices which enhance learners’ awareness of linguistic choice in a social context (Rose & Martin, 2012), while it also actively incorporates literacy practices in which individuals can invest their time and effort in negotiation with their future affiliation (Norton Peirce, 1995; Norton 2013). I utilized this pedagogy to teach a personal narrative genre in a US college level elementary Japanese course. By drawing on Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis (1989; 1992; 2003), I conducted textual analysis on each participant’s personal narrative texts and interpreted the linguistic cues in reference to their negotiations with identities and writing tasks. Overall, the four case studies of Mary, Andrea, Jean, and Lapis showcase a complex picture of investment and meaning-making. Their meaning-making is, on the one hand, to achieve the intended goal and purpose of writing, but on the other hand, is to organize and reorganize who they are and how they relate to the social world (Norton, 2013, p. 4). This suggests L2 learners’ meaning-making is enabled and/or constrained in certain ways, and equally important, contingent on learners’ agency, investment, and identity.