Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Granville Ganter

Second Advisor

Steven Alvarez

Third Advisor

Anne Geller


In this dissertation I explore the consequences of adopting a deliberative pedagogy, based on the study of one or two sample courses taught in 2018 at St. John’s University. The project as a whole argues that the university should be an idea place for students to develop a sense of personal and political agency, and First Year Writing courses organized around deliberation allow students to learn to listen and reason with each other as individuals and as citizens. My first chapter defends the methodology of a humanistic idea of deliberation (a pedagogy not based in classroom drills or Standard English) and where I also worry that the soft and fuzzy notion of deliberation that I practice collides with the measurement of my students’ “progress” on objective rubrics . My second chapter is a case study describing my students’ performance in a deliberative classroom where some of my best students learn to practice deliberation but are unable to define it. My third chapter explains that a deliberative classroom helps overcome student anxiety and what I call “the eyes of deficiency”---rather than thinking of themselves as dull asteriods in a neoliberal universe, deliberation helps them see their power to influence and affect each other. In this chapter I argue that students do not need to go “outside” of class to find their political agency---deliberating and interacting with peers in the classroom itself is a genuine community. Building on my critique of the urge to push our students to find political awareness outside of the classroom, my final chapter is a sustained critique of the “false” face of deliberation found in social media like Facebook. Although many faculty have turned to using social media in class as a means of “making class real” I show the many ways that the Left’s faith in the apparently democratic technologies of social media is well intentioned but terribly misplaced: our students’ writing on social media is being harvested, sensationalized, and exploited against them, and as faculty we need to model practices of genuine listening, empathy, and respect.