English, Department of


First Advisor

Rachael Shah

Date of this Version


Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Rachael Shah. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2021

Copyright (c) 2021 Molly McConnell


Using the New Literacy Studies and the work of James Paul Gee, the process of making sourdough bread is conceptualized as a literacy, which is then located within food literacy. The literacy of sourdough offers an alternative to neoliberal discourse. The literacy is linked to the rise in popularity of sourdough during the COVID-19 pandemic and is used to explore Bourdieu’s cultural capital. It also connects, rhizomatically (Deleuze and Guattari), and is used to explore concepts of interdependence and time. After establishing this literacy, a pedagogically- focused essay draws upon ecocomposition to expand on what a composition process would look like through a sourdough lens. Such a framework—the process of making sourdough—slows down the composing process and creates a microcosm of larger ecological systems in which all figures have agency. A third essay is a creative nonfiction piece about sourdough starters, Bruce Springsteen, and redemption.

Advisor: Rachael Shah