Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Hyo-Chang Hong

Second Advisor

Rachael Peckham

Third Advisor

Kelli Prejean


The purpose of this thesis is to look at published and student-produced creative writing, more specifically, personal essays, through the lens of discourse analysis theories in Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). From the analysis of these personal essays, this thesis provides pedagogical insight concerning the linguistic features that are prevalent in published and student personal essays. Although research has been conducted looking at academic student writing through the lens of SFL, little research has been conducted looking specifically at the elements that make up pieces of creative writing. In fact, Blythe and Sweet (2008), with over seventy years of experience teaching creative writing, question whether or not good creative writing can even be explicitly taught. Although creative writing is, by its nature, creative, and therefore artful, the effective (or ineffective) use of language in a text can be analyzed through the lens of SFL. This thesis examines a model personal essay and student-produced personal essays through the lens of four discourse analysis theories in SFL: appraisal, identification, ideation, and conjunction. These theories are then paired with common global issues cited as problematic in creative texts—focus, flow, and voice—in order to demonstrate that issues that seemingly deal with content can be analyzed in the grammar of a text.


Creative writing (Higher education)