Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric and Technical Communication (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Humanities


Nancy M Grimm


Students are now involved in a vastly different textual landscape than many English scholars, one that relies on the “reading” and interpretation of multiple channels of simultaneous information. As a response to these new kinds of literate practices, my dissertation adds to the growing body of research on multimodal literacies, narratology in new media, and rhetoric through an examination of the place of video games in English teaching and research. I describe in this dissertation a hybridized theoretical basis for incorporating video games in English classrooms. This framework for textual analysis includes elements from narrative theory in literary study, rhetorical theory, and literacy theory, and when combined to account for the multiple modalities and complexities of gaming, can provide new insights about those theories and practices across all kinds of media, whether in written texts, films, or video games. In creating this framework, I hope to encourage students to view texts from a meta-level perspective, encompassing textual construction, use, and interpretation.

In order to foster meta-level learning in an English course, I use specific theoretical frameworks from the fields of literary studies, narratology, film theory, aural theory, reader-response criticism, game studies, and multiliteracies theory to analyze a particular video game: World of Goo. These theoretical frameworks inform pedagogical practices used in the classroom for textual analysis of multiple media. Examining a video game from these perspectives, I use analytical methods from each, including close reading, explication, textual analysis, and individual elements of multiliteracies theory and pedagogy. In undertaking an in-depth analysis of World of Goo, I demonstrate the possibilities for classroom instruction with a complex blend of theories and pedagogies in English courses. This blend of theories and practices is meant to foster literacy learning across media, helping students develop metaknowledge of their own literate practices in multiple modes. Finally, I outline a design for a multiliteracies course that would allow English scholars to use video games along with other texts to interrogate texts as systems of information. In doing so, students can hopefully view and transform systems in their own lives as audiences, citizens, and workers.