Privileged high school girls' responses to depictions of femininity in popular young adult literature
Suico, Theresa Go
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Young adult literature has been a subject of contention for educators, adolescent psychologists, and critics for decades. Although some commentators maintain that young adult literature can be educationally and developmentally beneficial for adolescent readers, others argue that it often contains negative and potentially harmful messages that could influence its readers during a time when they are most vulnerable. Despite the claims on both sides, little substantive research exists on how older adolescent girls, the intended audience for these books, respond to the texts. This qualitative study examined three popular works of young adult literature to identify the overlapping messages they have regarding the depiction of adolescent females. Five adolescent girls, ages 14-17, read the books and met with the researcher in a series of one-on-one interviews to discuss their responses to the books, specifically the depiction of female characters. The participants also completed journal entries on the books and surveys on their reading habits and responses to the specific characters from the books in the study. The findings indicate these participants interpreted the books in distinctive ways based on their experiences and in keeping with prior research on adolescent development and reader response. The participants also took a critical approach to the books to find parallels to their own lives.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Boston University