Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This study examines the maternal metaphors of midwife and mother used to describe instructors and teaching practices in the composition classroom. In the introduction the author describes her interest in the topic based on her own experiences as a mother and as a beginning composition instructor. The paper explains the initiation of the metaphors, what the metaphors and maternal pedagogy mean in terms of classroom practices and philosophies, criticisms of maternal practices, and the relevancy and legitimacy of the metaphors and maternal pedagogy in classrooms today. Section one explores the development of the metaphors to describe composition teachers related to the composition and literature agendas created in the nineteenth century American university system. Other influences discussed in the metaphors usage and in the development of a maternal pedagogy are the 1970s revitalization of the women's rights movement and of the process pedagogy revolution. Section II surveys literature describing the philosophies of maternal pedagogy and maternal metaphors and their translations into classroom practices. Section III outlines the criticisms developed in reaction to maternal practices. Section IV details the results of surveys completed by freshmen composition students and composition instructors at Western Kentucky University. In the conclusion, the author considers the information and opinions presented and the survey results and draws conclusions about the relevancy of maternal metaphors and maternal pedagogy to the composition field and for her own teaching practices and philosophies.


Creative Writing | Education | English Language and Literature