Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Human Communications

First Advisor

Kate Willink, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

N. Eugene Walls, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Bernadette M. Calafell

Fourth Advisor

Darrin Hicks


Dialogue, Emotion, Performance, Privilege, Voice


Current privilege pedagogy scholarship demonstrates the importance of understanding privilege as an entryway into critical studies and everyday community engagement. Thus, this dissertation argues that privilege must be introduced into education earlier, such as high school. In order to demonstrate ethical possibilities of meeting the need for care, this project integrates social work and critical pedagogy scholarship that explores teaching privilege in the classroom, with culture and communication scholarship. This dissertation connects culture and communication, critical pedagogy, and performance to demonstrate an applied use of communication scholarship in two classroom settings to explore dialogues of privilege through a curriculum titled “Disrupting Privilege.” To do this, this dissertation uses critical pedagogy as a method of teaching “Disrupting Privilege” in the two classrooms and narrative ethnography as a method of analysis of what happened communicatively and performatively in the classrooms. The use of narrative ethnography forefronts student voices to guide the analysis of this dissertation.

In “Disrupting Privilege,” an analysis of communication components shows how communication was used to structure and facilitate critical conversations of privilege in the classroom. This structure and facilitation of communication created a space where emotion was brought into the classroom through privilege, pedagogy, and performance. By looking at the communicative and emotional aspects of these two classrooms we see demonstrations of classroom change and transformation. Therefore, this dissertation sets an example of how the use of communication and emotion, as seen in the “Disrupting Privilege” curriculum, can be used in high school to transform individuals and communities by analyzing what happened in each of these classrooms. The hope is that, through these narratives, student voices and experiences become a way to understand the capacity for high school students to struggle through critical conversations and performances about privilege. Involving high school students more often in these conversations, can teach students to think critically and engage in disrupting systems of power and, in return, potentially transform communities as well as pave the way for deeper, more sophisticated conversations in college.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Cassidy M. Higgins

File size

217 p.

File format





Communication, Social work, Education