Award Date

2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction

Department

Curriculum & Instruction

Advisor 1

Thomas Bean, Committee Co-Chair

Advisor 2

Helen Harper, Committee Co-Chair

First Committee Member

Marilyn McKinney

Second Committee Member

Lori Olafson

Third Committee Member

Lois Helmbold

Number of Pages

226

Abstract

Believing the claim made by Black feminist research and scholarship that Black women writers and Black female social networks were safe spaces for Black females to come to voice, this qualitative multiple case study examined how seven adolescent Black females enrolled in a public virtual charter high school positioned themselves as they responded to contemporary realistic young adult fiction written by African American female authors in an online single-gendered book club. This study captured participants as some interacted in Tuesday's group and the others in the Thursday's group. Interpretivist methods are used to specifically examine the ways in which the participants responded to the spaces provided: (a) an online chat room, (b) a single-gendered book club, and (c) African American contemporary realistic young adult fiction. The participants' responses confirmed the argument made by some educational researchers that identities are fluid and multifaceted. Moreover, the participants' responses to the spaces provided called into question Black feminist claims that Black women's writers and Black female social networks are safe spaces. Although most participants identified the anonymity as the component that made the online chat room a safe wholesome environment, one participant, in particular found the anonymity as the catalyst that led to the disrespect that erupted in her group. Furthermore, some participants described their experiences in the single-gendered book club as contentious while others described their experiences as fun and comfortable. This study problematizes the notion that online book clubs are neutral spaces, devoid of the power issues that operate in small group classroom discussions. Some found the literature mirrored their experiences, while others struggled to connect with protagonists and issues addressed in the literature. In addition, the participants' responses to the online single-gendered book club depended on the group dynamics and the literature selected for the study. Findings in this study suggested that adolescent Black females reading contemporary realistic young adult fiction written by African American female writers was not always a safe space as described by some Black feminist scholars. The findings revealed that race was more complex, and as a result, the exact match from literature to girls was not enough to meet their needs. Thus, the findings suggested that the online single-gendered book club featuring African American contemporary realistic young adult fiction was no panacea in adolescent Black females' coming to voice.

Keywords

Adolescent girls; African-American young adult literature; Book clubs; Chat room discussions; Feminism; High school; Identity; Literacy education; Online; Secondary education; Social networks; Young adult literature

Disciplines

African American Studies | Curriculum and Instruction | Liberal Studies | Secondary Education and Teaching

Language

English