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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Theresa Austin

Subject Categories

Adult and Continuing Education | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education


The focus in this study was to investigate how Korean female learners of English understand and negotiate social identities in online English discussions and how their online encounters influenced their identity positioning. In this virtual ethnographic study of an online English study group of Korean learners, I observed and collected 22 hours of sessions during which the members discussed sociopolitical issues and role-played hypothetical situations of conflicts in English. I engaged in thematic analysis and discourse analysis (Blommaert, 2005) to analyze the sessions. Using chronotope (Agha, 2007; Bakhtin, 1981) as a central construct, this dissertation includes three findings chapters, each with a focus on different aspects of social identities (i.e., gender, language, and race). The focus in Chapter 4 is on images of personhood and their associated moralized behavioral scripts to explicate gender ideologies. Following images of the stigmatized womanhood, ajumma, I trace how the social type was invoked and discussed in English conversations. Findings showed these learners selectively aligned themselves with the ajumma identity when they sought to transgress the Korean gender norms that are restrictive to women. In Chapter 5, I focus on a specific type of chronotope––the modernist chronotope. This notion maps time into space in one’s imagination of cultures and languages, often putting two cultures or languages in comparison of forwardness and backwardness. The findings revealed the members constructed images of Korean as a moral language and English as a logical language. These specific images of language had consequences for their language learning and practice. In Chapter 6, I focus on temporal aspects of chronotope using the notion of social tense (Povinelli, 2011; Rosa, 2016). In the discussion of Korea’s racial/ethnic diversity, the participants actively used the social tense of negative present to talk about Korea’s diversity as “not ready yet.” This description was paradoxically articulated side-by-side with the current and growing presence of non-Korean immigrants in Korea. I used the results of this study to propose a new framework to examine online spaces based on the understanding of chronotope as a more dynamic conceptualization of context. Additionally, educators and researchers in intercultural education and TESOL can use the results to more critically examine students’ identities as intersecting with their gender, language, and culture.