Title

Four Girls Respond to Young Adult Horror Fiction

Date of Award

8-1-1997

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Teaching & Learning

Abstract

This qualitative study provides insight into the separate reading experience of four adolescent girls as each engaged in the reading and discussion of a popular, self-selected young adult horror novel. The analysis and interpretation of data focused on the appeal of texts and the sociological implications of the reading experience. While questions regarding the appeal of young adult horror fiction grew from work with adolescent female horror readers, the social dimension of the inquiry stemmed from concerns of critical literacy theorists with regard to the ideological content of texts and its potential to shape readers into accepting dominant views.

Data generated by four adolescent female readers in-separate case studies consisted of approximately 32 hours (eight hours per reader) of taped and transcribed conversation between respondents and researcher on a chapter-by-chapter basis. In addition, the data included an analysis and interpretation of the four texts. Critical theory was applied to the data for the purpose of examining the texts and responses for evidence of ideological socialization. Race, social class, gender, and sexuality were the four categories examined.

Both the texts and the responses of the readers did reflect the ideologies of the dominant group, the white, middle class who displayed gender and sexually appropriate behaviors. Evidence of ideological socialization as a result of the textual experience, did not maternalize in the data, however. As for the appeal of this genre, the data suggested that readers were attracted to young adult horror fiction primarily for the effects or the feelings aroused in them by death, flesh, and fluids.

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