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A Case Study of Adolescent Females' Perceptions of Identity in an After School Book Club b y Holly S. Atkins A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Secondary E ducation College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Jane Applegate, Ph.D. Valerie Janesick, Ph.D. Patricia Jones, Ph.D. Joan Kaywell, Ph.D. James King, Ed.D. Date of Approval: April 4, 2011 Keywords: case study, young adult literature, reader response, sociocultural learning theory Copyright 2011, Holly S. Atkins
Dedication Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. -Goethe I dedicate this dissertation to my family. Thank you for your love, patience, and unwavering support. To my mom: You will always be my first and forever reading buddy. To my husband, Steve: Thirty years of marriage and a dissertation you are wonderful beyond measure. To my children, Stephen, Laura, and Amy: I am proud of the wonderful dreamers and doers you have become.
Acknowledgements I must begin with the five eighth grade girls who comprised the "Super Girl Nerd Squad:" Lacey, Bianca, Sarah, Katie, and Rachel. Thank you for sharing your reading lives and your selves with me. I will always honor my membership i n the book club as "H Dawg." I am grateful throughout the often solitary work of completing this dissertation that I have been surrounded by an array of supportive friends and colleagues who never wavered in their support. To Dr. Jane Applegate, who con tinued to believe I would co mplete this process even when (or especially when) I couldn't see it myself. I thank you for your patience in reading my many muddled drafts and helping me clarify my muddled thinking. To Dr. Valerie Janesick, whose commitment to excellence pushed me to do more and be more both professionally and personally. To Dr. Jim King whose excitement over my study never failed to lift my spirits. I thank you for your support in helping me work through the many wonderings that filled my days and nights. To Dr. Joan Kaywell: Long before I entered the doctoral program you have been one of my most active supporters. Thank you for the doors you helped open for me. To Dr. Pat Jones, my dear friend and colleague: Our lives have become inte rwoven through our labor of love with the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project. I have learned so much from you. You have a wonderful talent for making people want to do better and be better.
i Table of Contents List of Tables v List of Figures vi Abstract vii Chapter One: Introduction to the Study 1 The Personal and Professional Meet at the Crossroads of Research 1 Background of the Study 2 Purpose of the Study 7 Overview of the Theoretical Framework 9 Exploratory Questions 10 Significance of the Study 11 Definition of Terms 14 Overview of the Methodology 17 Assumptions 18 Limitations of the Study 19 Chapter Summary 22 Chap ter Two: Review of Literature 25 Sociocultura l Theory 27 Overv iew and Historical Background 27 Soci ocultural Theory and Literacy 29 N ew T rends in Sociocultural Theory 32 Reader Response Theory 33 Overview 34 Experience B ased Views of Reader Response 36 Process Based Views of Reader Response 37 Text B ased Views of Reader Response 39 Social Theories of Response 39 Ad olescent Females and Identity 40 Theoretical Background 41 Identity Viewed as Part of Life Cycle Stages 41 Identity Viewed as a Dynami c "Self Structure" 43 Identity as Exploration 44 Personal Iden tity and Discursive Practices 45 Female Identity Dev elopment: Relationship Based 47 Book Clubs 50
ii Background 50 Women and Book Clubs 51 Literature in the Lives of Adolescent F emales 51 Female Read ers and Textual Relationships 52 Reading as "Doing" 54 Adol escent Females and Book Clubs 55 Book Clubs as Pedagogical Practice 57 Chapter Summary 60 Chapter Three: Method 64 Purpose of the Study and Exploratory Question s 64 T heoretical Research Framework 65 Design of the Study 65 Case Study Design 65 Participants and Site 67 Book Selection 72 The Role of the Researcher 77 Procedure and Data Collection 82 Partici pant Reader Response Journals 83 Participant Interviews 84 Credibility 85 Peer Debriefer 87 Researcher Reflective Journal 88 Member Checking 90 Qu alitative Analysis Strategies 91 Constant Comparative Method 91 Found Data Poems 92 Analysi s/Description/Interpretation 94 Getting From Here to There 96 Dissertation Timeline 96 Est imated Dissertation Expenses 97 Chapter Summary 100 Chapter Fou r: Presentation of the Data 102 Notes for the Reade r: Transcription Conventions 106 Context 108 Case Study: Book Club 109 Meetin g the Book Club From My Researcher Reflective Journal 109 Background on the Book Club 110 Participant Self Identity St atements about the Book Club 111 Perceptions of Identity 114 Identity as a Sociocultural Construct 115 Identity as Devel opme ntal 116 Influences on Participan ts' Self Identity Expression 119 Physical Attribut es of the Social Environment 119
iii Attitudinal Attribut es of the Social Environment 120 Introduction to Participant Case Studies 126 The First Case: Sarah 127 Meet ing Sarah From My R esearcher Reflective Journal 127 Background on Sarah 128 Self Identity Statements 131 Perceptions of Identity 135 Identity as a Sociocultural Construct 135 Identity in the Text World 137 Identity as Developmental 140 Inf luences on Sara h's Self Identity Expression 141 Physical Attribut es of the Social Environment 141 Attitudinal Attribut es of the Social Environment 142 The Second Case: Bianca 143 Meeting Bianca From My R esearcher Reflective Journal 144 Backg roun d on Bianca 145 Self Identity Statements 147 Perceptions of Identity 148 Identity as a Sociocultural Construct 148 Identity in the Text World 150 Identity as Developmental 153 Influences on Bianc a's Self Identity Expression 154 Physical A ttribut es of the Social Environment 154 Attitudinal Attribut es of the Social Environment 155 The Third Case: Lacey 156 Meeting Lacey From My R esearcher Reflective Journal 156 Background on Lacey 157 Self Identity Statements 159 Perceptions of I dentity 161 Identity as a Sociocultural Construct 161 Identity in the Text World 163 Identity as Developmental 165 Influences on Lace y's Self Identity Expression 167 Physical Attribut es of the Social Environment 167 Attitudinal Attribut es of the Social Environment 167 Cross Case Analysis 170 Participa nts' Perceptions of Identity 171 Influences on Participan ts' Self Identity Expression 172 Chapter Summary 176 Chapter Five: Discussion, Impli cations, and Recommendations 179 Finding Me aning in the Individual Case 180 Learning from Sarah 181 Learning from Bianca 185 Learning from Lacey 189 Learning from the Book Club 193
iv Cross Case Issues 196 Perceptions of Identity 196 Influences on Self Identity Expression 200 Implic ations for Practice 204 Literacy as a Sociocultural Construct 204 Classroom Discussions 206 Literature Selection 208 Teacher Education 210 Recomme ndations for Future Research 211 Participants 211 Reader Response Journals 213 Boo k Selection 216 Literacy as a Sociocultural Construct 217 Role of the Researcher 218 Chapter Summary 219 Final Reflections 222 References 226 Appendices 244 Appendix A: Book Club Flyer 245 Appen dix B: Informed Consent Form 246 Appendix C: Amelia Blo ome r Project Sample Annual List 252 Appendix D: Amel ia Bloomer Project Criteria 255 Appendi x E: Participant Book List 258 Appendix F: Initial a nd Final Interview Protocols 261 Appendix G: Sample Intervie w Transcription and Analysis 263 Appendix H : Example of Researcher Reflective Journal Entries 265 A ppendix I: Peer Review Form 267 Appe ndix J: Categories and Codes 268 Appendix K: Sample Partici pant Reader Response Journal 269 About the Author End Page
List of Tables Table 1 Langer's Envisionment Building Stances 38 Table 2 Explorator y Question 1 and Study Design 82 Table 3 Explorator y Question 2 and Study Design 83 T able 4 Dissertation Timeline 97 Table 5 Est imated Dissertation Expenses 100 Ta ble 6 Participants' Self Identity Statements 127 Table 7 Case Study Participants' Collective/Unique Self Identity 171 Statements Table 8 Perspectives on Identity and Influences on Self Identity 172 Expression
vi List of Figures Figure 1 Example Convergence of Multiple Sources of Data 111 Figure 2 Sarah's Perceptions of Identity, Influences on Self Identity 195 Expression, and Self Identity Statements Figure 3 Bianca's Perceptions of Identity, Influences on Self Identity 199 Expression, and Self Identity Statements Figure 4 Lacey's Perceptions of Identity, Influences on Self Identity Expression, and Self Identity Statements 204 Figure 5 Participant Positions within Erickson and Gilligan Identity 212 Development Theories Figure 6 Components of Effective Book Clubs Meet Developmental 240 Needs of Adolescents
vii Abstract Reading is a perennial educational hot topic but now extends for beyond early lite racy to the secondary level. Reading researchers are growing in our knowledge of how to reach and teach struggling adolescent readers yet too often success in literacy is measured solely by performance on standardized tests. Literacy is seen on one hand as a one dimensional set of skills students need to possess to be successful in school and their future workplaces. A more expansive view of the importance o f literacy and what it means to adolescent females' growth as individuals and members of communities is needed. This study focuse d on selected ad olescent girls' perceptions of identity through reading, responding, and discussing literature featuring stron g female protagonists. Semi structured interviews conducted with each of the female participants at the begi nning and end of the study, reader response journals in which participants composed weekly responses to their reading, transcripts of the weekly boo k discussions, field notes, and entries in a researcher reflective journal form the data for this study emphasizing the focus on the meaning these individuals brought to the phenomena studied: identity exploration within literacy events. This study addre ssed questions of t he how and why of a literary ev ent, and involved a variety of data, thereby making a case study methodology an appropriate choice Selected participants were the focus of individual case studies and the book club itself was the focus of an additional case study. Self identity statements and background
viii information gathered on each of the three case study participants helped shape portraits of these adolescent girls, whose perspectives on their own identities were both convergent and diver gent. The same proved true when addressing the two exploratory questions: The participants appeared to hold identical perspectives on identity, yet stated unique, varied perspectives on environmental elements influencing their self identity expression. A ll three case study participants viewed identity as a developing, evolving process highly influenced by societal standards and expectations especially for females. The girls also saw the social environment as affecting identity in the frequent mismatch occurring between what the individual perceives as his or her self identity being expressed and how others in the environment perceive the identity. Psychosocial theories of human development acknowledge that an individual's identity is both located within and without. The participants in the book club all shared this perception of identity as a sociocultural construct. However, the girls' diverse self identity statements and range of perspectives indicate the need for a new model of female adolescent ide ntity development. This new model needs to reflect girls and their sociocultural worlds of today. Finally, the experiences of the five girls in the book club study indicate the common misperceptions existing concerning the nature of adolescent identity. Again, unlike Erickson's concept of identity as undeveloped in adolescence and shifting with each storm and crisis, the girls in the study indicate the need for a different perspective. Classrooms are unfortunately often bereft of the type of space prov ided for the girls in the book club. Within this space the girls engaged in deep, thoughtful, critical responses to literature while expressing their self identities and exploring other's
ix identities. As adolescents, these five girls were provided space b y and with a trusted adult to engage in what is acknowledged to be a critical element in human development: identity exploration. To meet the needs of all students, teachers should arrange discussions in both small group and whole class structures. Howev er, successful discussions those which offer students rich opportunities to engage with text, make connections, derive personal meaning, explore and express self identity these discussions will only occur when the teacher has considered not only the ph ysical environment but also the attitudinal environment.
! ! 1 ! ! ! Chapter One Introduction to the Study ! The Personal and P rofessi onal Meet at the Crossroads of R esearch A young girl and her mother walk hand in hand down the quiet street in a small Florida beach community. As the youngest child with four olde r siblings, "just the two of us" Friday nights visiting Long Key Library with her mother are treasured moments for Holly. The year is 1964. Forty five years later, Holly will be a middle school language arts teacher pursuing a doctoral degree in English Education. Her research will reflect the lifelong passion for reading whose seeds were planted along the pathway mother and daughter traveled on their weekly visits to the local library: girls and literacy. This story my story, is the narrative woven throughout my life. With the many changes I've experienced in over 50 years of living, the one constancy has always been the presence of books. Friends, confidants, sources of knowledge, laughter, and inspiration books are my touchstones. As a doctora l candidate, I have naturally turned to books once again for my research. As a teenager in the 1970s, the women's movement formed an important foundation for my adolescence and exploration of what it meant to be female. The words of Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and others provided me with a window into a concept of womanhood I lacked from my own mother. While I will always value her for instilling in me that lifelong love of reading, my mother saw a woman's life as defined
! ! 2 only as it related to others: wife first, then mother. The voices of the women's movement spoke to me in ways I'd never heard before. Choices. You have choices. I look at my own daughters now and know that the society in which they grew into their own young womanhoods has chang ed significantly since my own days. In many ways, the walls that boxed in far too many females in my day have fallen away. Or have they? Are they gone, or have they simply changed forms? These are questions I wonder as I watch my third year law school daughter enveloped in the latest episode of "Project Runway." My research must reflect my passion. And so the marr iage of books and women produced a study of five female adolescents reading, writing, talking and exploring what it means to be female. Ba ckground of the Study In 1994, Mary Pipher published her groundbreaking work Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls Pipher joined other voices in asking what was happening to female teenagers. Standardized tests revealed these young g irls equaled or out performed their male counterparts up until the junior high/middle school years. At that point, a dramatic decrease in scores among young women occurred especially in the areas of math and science. Pipher pointed to a variety of reas ons why the "selfhood" of adolescent girls needed saving and how this could be accomplished. A number of national movements were born in response, in part to her recommendations. "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" (now known as "Take Your Child to Work Day ") is one such event that stays with us today. "Project Ophelia" groups can also be found in cities
! ! 3 throughout the country. Female adolescent self esteem has even become part of a national marketing campaign for Dove Soap. Six teen years have passed sinc e Reviving Ophelia One wonders: How are our young girls doing now? Harvard psychology professor Dan Kindlon asked that same question. The answers he arrived at can be found in his text, Alpha Girls: Understanding th e New American Girl and How She I s Changing the World (2006). According to Kindlon, Pipher's Ophelia girls have all but disappeared. They have been replaced, instead, by what he terms "Alpha Girls" young women between the ages of 13 and 22 who are intellectually strong, self confident, and ready to take on the world. Of course, a careful reading of Kindlon's text reveals significant details that lead naturally to further questions. By his own admission, Kindlon's Alpha Girls represent only about 20% of all adolescent females. How are the other 80% faring? As someone who had spent the past 15 years working with adolescents (many of whom fit Kindlon's model of high achieving, outwardl y self confident females), I knew that there wa s much more to painting a full and accurate portrait of t hese girls than the broad brush strokes Kindlon had employed. What had I seen in my years as a language arts teacher reading and writing with my students? A dolescents who participa t ed enthusiastically in class discussions the first hands raised to resp ond to a question are just as like ly to be from girls as from boys. Working in small groups, these girls seem ed to lack any hesitation in expressing their opinions -eye rolling and open disagreement with ideas presented by their male group members wa s n ot uncommon. If I had been a casual observer in my classroom I may have agree d with Kindlon's assertions; I might have be en tempted to join him in bidding
! ! 4 adieu to the dismal situation presented in the American Association of University Women's 1992 study entitled "How Schools Shortchange Girls." In Reviving Ophelia Pipher shares the following findings from the AAUW work: In classes, boys are twice as likely to be seen as role models, five times as likely to receive teachers' attention and twelve times as likely to speak up in class ... as children go through school, boys do better and feel better about themselves and girls' self esteem, opinions of their sex and scores on standardized achievement tests all decline. Girls are more likely than boys to say that they are not smart enough for their dream careers. They emerge from adolescence with a diminished sense of their worth as individuals. ( 1994, p. 62 ) But I am not a casual observer. In over 15 years as a middle school language arts teacher, I have ne ver been merely the dispassionate dispenser of information to stud ents. The classroom community I strove to create with my students each year meant I form ed relati onships with my students. I kne w them. And knowing them, listening to them, I hear d a narr ative incongruous with Kindlon's cla ims. Listening to my girls, I was far from ready to dismiss the AAUW study in favor of Kindlon's. Kaycee's story is one such narrative. In two years as Kaycee's language arts teacher, I ca me to know her well. A passi onate reader and writer, Kaycee often greeted me at the door to m y classroom before school began breathlessly urging me to read a poem or short story written the night before. About a month into her eighth grade school year, Kaycee arrived one morning w ith her shoulder length hair cut so it barely brushed the nape of her neck. She smiled broadly, tousled her hair, and asked/stated, "Don't you just love it, Miss A?" Later that night, I checked my email to find a message from
! ! 5 Kaycee with these brief inst ructions: "Please read my attached story. It's sort of about me, but not really. Maybe just a little." Titled "My Hair," Kaycee's personal narrative was divided into five sections: "The Beginning, "Gone," "Why?" "The Stares ," and Me." Kaycee's words reflect developmental psychologists' view of adolescence as a time of iden tity exploration (Erickson 1963, 1964, 1968 ; Marcia, 1966, 1980; Grotevant, 1987; Gilligan & Brown, 199 2; Gilligan, Lyons & Hanmer, 1990 ) and how even a haircut can be part of the ongoing process of discovering who we are and what it me ans to be female. Kaycee wrote As I cautiously peered into the mirror before me, I did not recognize the person trapped inside its glassy confinementsI couldn't believe that I had actually gone th rough with it, getting all of my long hair hacked off. Suddenly, a vicious thought occurred to me. My hair was shorter than most boysMy neck was now bare, my ears peeking through my "guy cut." I started playing with it, and saw that its full potential was grand and explosive. Huge...I grasped the thought that my opinion was the only one that matteredThis was the me that I'd wanted, still wanted. Kaycee, winner of an all state music competition, top student in her academic classes, bubbly, outgoing an d reflecting Pipher's assertion about girls such as her: Ironically, bright and sensitive girls are most at risk for problems. They are likely to understand the implications of the media around them and be alarmed. They have the mental equipment to pick up our cultural ambivalence about women, and yet they don't have the cognitive, emotional and social skills to handle this
! ! 6 information It's this attempt to make sense of the whole of adolescent experience that overwhelms bright girls (p. 43). For Kaycee, her new hairstyle was empowering. Yet that empowerment was gained through adopting what she viewed as a physical male characteristic: short hair. Through he r "guy cut," Kaycee appropriated the male centered view of adolescent identity d evelopment (Erick son, 1963, 1964, 1968 ) with an emphasis on separation from others. Yet the secti on titled "The Stares," reflected her discomfort with this appropriation, and the importance she continued to place on relationships a feature of female adolescent identity development (Gilligan, Ward & Taylor, 1988; Gilliga n & Brown, 1992). Kaycee wrote People were watching me, horrific expressions on their typically dismal facesOthers, they thought I was courageous, a girl with guts. It still didn't stop the stares from penetrating me from all anglesI peered into the mirrored windows as I stroll ed by them, but it was hard for me to recognize the young woman who stared back. Clearly, Kindlon's observations need ed deeper, alternative perspectives. Instead of relying sole ly on one on one interviews with adolescent girls, what would be the result if a researcher gathered a group of girls together once a week to explore gende r and the issue of what it meant to be a young female today? What if the discussion centered on book s? What if that discussion took various forms and included writing as well as speaking? What rich understandings would emerge? Would we find Ophelias or Alpha Girls? Perhaps both.
! ! 7 Purpose of the S tudy The purpose of this study wa s to describe and exp lain selected adolescent girls' perspectives on identity through participation in an after school book club. Participation in a book club for the present study was defined as reading agreed upon text s writing personal res ponses to the text, attending mee ting s with o ther club members, engaging in discussion s about the text with members, and writing response s following the discussion s elements often found in classroom based small group literature discussions. While often touted as a pedagogical best pra ctice, small group, student centered literature discussions such as these have found favor among many elementary and middle school teachers and numerous studies have focused on the benefits for students who participate in such groups (Daniels, 2002; Raphae l & McMahon, 1994). At the same time, research indicating the benefits of single gender education, too, has led many administrators to restructure classroom populations to provide spaces for girls only and boys only learning (Cairns, 1990; Colley, Comber, & Hargreaves, 1994; Granleese & Joseph, 1993; Harker & Nash, 1997; Lee & Marks, 1990). Although scholars have shown the effectiveness of both literature discussion groups and single gender learning environments, scant attention has been paid to a marria ge of the two. Further, what research does exist in this area fails to adopt a sociocultural frame as Galda and Beach (2001) have advocate d : "Texts, readers, and contexts, each inseparable from the other, are also inseparable from the larger contexts in which they are enacted" (p.66). Pipher's Reviving Ophelia remains a relevant, seminal study for educators and others concerned with adolescent female development. Gilligan's assertions about
! ! 8 adolescent females, too, are as relevant today as they were in 1992: "Girls at this time have been observed to lose their vitality, their resilience, their immunity to depression, their sense of themselves and their character." (p. 2) Yet much of the focus of academic literature reflects a shift to males as the sole object of educator s concerns ( Pollack, 1990; Fletcher, 2 006; Smith & Wilhelm, 2002 ), pointing to further need for studies focusing on females. I do not present these five girls participating in this study as representative of all girls, or even all adole scent girls. As a veteran teacher and a researcher, though, I know the greatest learning always comes from listening to the students themselves. Every time I do so, I come away with new insights and understandings. Even brief, hallway chats elicit ideas I'll think about the entire drive home. In this study, therefore, I walked in the research footsteps of those who value the often silenced voices of adoles cent females (Gilligan 1982, 1993; Brown & Gilligan 1 992; Barbieri, 1995). Gilligan (1982) spoke for herself and other members of her research group who spent five years interviewing young female students at the Laurel School listening to the voices of young girls to develop a theory of women's psychologic al development when she stated Our claim, therefore, in presenting this work is not that the girls we spoke with a re representative of all girls or some ideal sample of girls, but rather that we l earned from this group of girls and young women, and what we discovered s eemed worthy of others' attention. (p. 23) And so it was my intention with this particular study to listen to and learn from a group of adolescent females as they rea d and discussed books and explored their identities as
! ! 9 females. Valuing the voices, I am confident that my own discoveries are "worthy of others' attention." Overview of the Theoretical F ramework Engaging in research is a process of constantly making cho ices. A study describing and explaining the perspectives on identity of five eighth grade adolescent females reading literature featuring strong female protagonists in a n after school book club, and the variables that influence their perspectives experienc es exploring their identities represents the overlap and intersection of multiple theories. In this study, reader response theory wa s the theoretical framework that informed the design, process, and analysis stages of this work. Selecting a single theory strengthened these components of the study and en abled me to address the exploratory questions clearly and directly. A more in depth discussion o f the framework is provided in Chapter T wo, but a brief discussion at the onset is critical in beginning to un derstand the research. While reader response theory is a broad term that includes numerous contributors to its developm ent, Louise Rosenblatt's (1978, 1995 ) work is considered seminal to this area of literary criticism. According to Rosenblatt, reading i s a relational, transactional event between the reader and the text T he concept of the transaction with the environment provides the model for the p rocess in which reader and text are invo lved. Each becomes in a sense e nvironment for the other. A two wa y, or bett er, a circular, process can be p ostulated, in which the reader responds to verbal st imuli offered by the text, but a t the same time he must draw selectively on th e resources of his own fund of e xperience and sensibility to provide and
! ! 10 organize t h e substance of his response. O ut of this new experience, the literary work is formed. (1978, p. 43) From this circular process, knowledge is not merely interpreted, but produced (Sumara, 2002). This knowledge includes knowledge of self. Sumara reference d Iser's assertion that the reader text relation involves an interpretive practice he termed a "literary anthology," when he stated With this phrase he (Iser) suggests that while the reader will always have an interpretation of the text she or he is readi ng, the interpretation itself participates in the ongoing development of the reader's self identity. (p. 95) The tenets of reader response theory form the foundation of this study in data collection (journals, small group discu ssions), formulation of expl oratory questions and data analysis. Exploratory Q uestions In this study, I describe d and explain ed selected adolescent girls' perspectiv es on identity through an after school book club. Employing a view of female identity that is both socially situated and relationship based (Gee, 1996, 2000; Harre & van Lagenhove 1999 ; Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Gilligan, 1982, 1993), I considered both individual and group contexts. The q uestions that guided the study we re the following: 1. What elements constitute selecte d a dolescent girls' perceptions of identity through an after school book club? 2. What elements influence their self identity expression?
! ! 11 Significance of the S tudy Reading is currently an educational hot topic extending for the first time beyond early li teracy to the secondary level. We are growing in our knowledge of how to reach and teach struggling adolescent readers (Alve rmann, et al. 2000 ; Finn, 1999; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000; Moje & O'Brien, 2001), yet too often success in literacy is measured sole ly by performance on standardized tests. Literacy is seen as a one dimensional set of skills students need to possess to be successful in school and their future workplaces. A more expansive view of the importance of literacy and what it means to adoles cent females' growth as individuals and members of communities is needed. While this narrow definition and purpose of literacy retains a tenacious foothold, reader response theory, based on a perspective in which meaning resides not in the text, but as t he result of a transaction between the reader and the text (Rosenblatt, 1978 1995 ; Iser, 1978), has gained popularity as a pedagogical best practice in classrooms. Students are increasingly asked to make connections between the text and personal experien ces and to write their personal interpretations of the text in journals, reflecting the influence of reader response theory. However, research has indicated that New Criticism remains firmly entrenched as a prevailing practice in secondary and undergradua te classrooms (Beach, 1993). In Why Reading Literature in School Still Matters, Dennis Sumara (2002) stated too, that while many of the tenets of reader response theory, emphasizing the importance of literary engagement and readers forming relationships with texts, are now embraced by classroom teachers, there is much work still to do: In schooling contexts, readers have been encouraged to represent their identifications with characters and, as well, to demonstrate how these
! ! 12 identifications sponsor perso nal associations. While these have been significant developments, particularly since they point to a more expansive view of what constitutes critical interpretation, in my view there has not been sufficient attention paid to understanding how the very act of reading becomes immersed in a complex set of cultural activities that participates in the ongoing conditioning of personal and cultural knowledge and understanding. (p. 27 28) In Private Reading in Public: Schooling the Literary Imagination (1996), Su mara prese nted a theory of reading that builds upon and expands the work of Rosenblatt and Iser by viewing the engagement of reader and text as relational "site(s) for the ongoing interpretation of the personal, the communal, and the cultural" (p.12). Sum ara (2002) stated "Interpretation practices function to create experiences of self identity" (p. 8). This view of reader response theory, in which readers form relationships with the text (characters, setting, etc.) and while exploring these relationship s are, in turn, provided with the opportunity to explore their own identities, is the theoretical framework for the present study, and offers classroom teachers a more expansive perspective on literacy and literacy practices. T h is study is significant as well for the contribution it makes to the body of research focusing on adolescent females' participation in book clubs. As I present in the next ch apter in the review of literature, females in book clubs have been the subject of numerous studies some with a specific focus on book clubs and identi ty exploration (Frye, 2006; Broughton, 2002; Twomey, 2007; Carico, 2001). But while many of these studi es acknowledge the rich historical background of book clubs as communities of adult female readers where seeds of empowerment and agency were planted and
! ! 13 flourished, there are few studies where the researcher adopted an intentionally feminist researcher pe rspective. Following the guidance of Shulamit Reinharz in Feminist Methods in Social Research (1992), I embrace the view that there is no single method, but instead multiple methods, of conducting feminist research. Rather than a single chapter on what c onstitutes a feminist method of research, Reinharz's text includes chapters such as "Feminist Interview Research," "Feminist Oral History," "Feminist Case Studies," and "Feminist Experimental Research" indicating that feminist research can be quantitativ e as well as qualitative. Reinharz quotes Australian scholar Dale Spender whose perspective on the value of feminist knowledge is pertinent to the focus in this particular study on creating a space where the voices of a group of adolescent females can be heard: At the core of feminist ideas is the crucial insight that there is no one truth, no one authority, no one objective method which leads to the production of pure knowledge. This insight is applicable to feminist knowledge as it is to patriarchical k nowledge, but there is a significant difference between the two: feminist knowledge is based on the premise that the experience of all human beings is valid and must not be excluded from our understandings, whereas patriarchical knowledge is based on the premise that the experience of only half the human population needs to be taken into account and the resulting version can be imposed on the other hand That is why patriarchical knowledge and the methods of producing it are a fundamental part of women's o ppression, and why patriarchical knowledge must be c hallenged and overruled. (p. 7 9)
! ! 14 Further, while many of the above mentioned studies discuss the work of psychologist Carol Gilligan who pioneered a relational, voice centered, feminist approach to stud ying women and adolescent females, none of the studies employed and extended this approach in their own studies of adolescent females and literacy. In more than one study, Erikson's male centered theory of identity development (which Gilligan rejected) was adopted to view the female participants' identity exploration in the book clubs. In keeping with the feminist methods woven throughout this study, I will rely on Gilligan's theory and research methods to inform my work, hoping that others, too, will addr ess the need for studies in which feminist research methods are employed in all aspects of the work. Definition of T erms Adolescent/adolescence The topic of debate in terms of age range and defining characteristics (Lesko, 2001). While the period of ado lescence is generally accepted to include individuals between the ages of ten and twenty), in this study, where the secondary school setting is a critical component, when either term is used, the reference will be to individuals between grades six and twel ve (Moje, Overby, Tysvaer, & Morris, 2008). In contrast to the earlier views of adolescence as a turbulent period of "storm and stress," a more contemporary view of adolescence will be employed in this study. Therefore, adolescence will be viewed as "a pe riod of development characterized by biological, cognitive, emotional and social reorganization with the aim of adapting to cultural expectations of becoming an adult." ( Handbook of Adolescent Psychology p. 15). While adolescent theorists view this time i n the life cycle as concluding with separation and individuation (Erickson, 1968), researchers focusing on female adolescent
! ! 15 development (Gilligan, 1982; Gilligan, Lyons, & Hanmer, 1990) emphasize attachment and relationships as key especially in terms o f identity development, a central feature of adolescence. Book Clubs In contrast to the more structured, formalized classroom based conceptions (Daniels, 2002; Raphael, Kehus & Damphousse, 2001), the term "book club" used in this study refers to a socia l community of readers who voluntarily read group sel ected literature and meet to share and discuss their responses. Response to Literature Based on Rosenblatt's ( 1978, 1995) reader response theory where readers transact with the text using their "intell ectual, emotional, and experiential equipment" to "shape the new experience symbolized on the page" (p. 25). Identity Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, and Cain (1998) emphasize d the sociocultural nature of identit y and stated "Identities if they are aliv e, if they are being lived are unfinished and in process Identities never arrive in persons or in their immediate social milieu already formed. They do not come into being, take hold on lives, or remain vibrant without considerable work in and for the person. They happen in social practice" (p. vii). Voice This statement by psychologist Carol Gilligan provides a multi dimensional definition of the term. Her words express both the depth and breadth of the research: "To have a voice is to be human. To have something to say is to be a person. But speaking depends on listening and being heard; it is an intensely relational act. (p. 177, 1993)
! ! 16 Literacy Event -Within the sociocultural framework, literacy (reading, writing, listening, speaking, and v iewing) cannot be separated from the social, cultural, and historical settings within which the act occurs (Finders, 19 97; Gee, 1996, 2000 ). Thro ughout this study, Heath's (1983 ) defi nition of literacy as an event wa s a central focal point: (A literacy event is) a conceptual tool useful in examining within particular communities of modern society the actual forms and functions of oral and literate traditions and co existing relationships between spoken and written language. A literacy event is any occas ion in which a piece of writing is integral to the nature of participants' interactions and their interpretive processes. (p. 93) Gender An anthropological, not biological view of gender (Ortner & Whitehead, 1981; Cherland, 1984) is foundational to this study. Gender identity is therefore an action dependent upon both actor and audience. Butler states, "There is no gender identity behind the expression of gender; (that) identity is performatively constituted by the very expressions' that are said to b e its results (p. 25) Finally, Marshall and Rossman (2010) further inform the position of gender in the present study stating, "Gender is not the sole, essential, and fixed category identifying a person." (p. 27) Young Adult Literature This study emplo yed Nilsen and Donelson's (2009) definition: "Anything that readers between the approximate ages of twelve and eighteen choose to read either for leisure or to fill school assignments." (p. 3) Strong Female Protagonists Central characters who are female and exhibit characteristics of empowerment and a sense of agency (Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner & Cain, 1998; Messer Davidow, 1995).
! ! 17 Overview of the M ethodology Creswell (2007) maintained the definition of qualitative research is a continuously evolving one reflecting "the ever changing nature of qualitative inquiry from social construction, to interpretivist, and on to social justice" (p. 36). And while some features of quali tative research remain constant including the interpretive, naturalistic approach and focus on the meaning individuals bring to phenomena studied (Denzin & Lincoln in Creswell, p. 36) ; contemporary definitions emphasize the power of qualitative research to transform the world. This study focused on selecte d adolescent girls' perceptions of identity through reading, responding, and discussing literature featuring strong female protagonists. Data collection was conducted through extensive time spent in the field, in keeping with the naturalistic approach. Semi structured interviews conduc ted with each of the five female participants at the begi nning and end of the study, reader response journals in which participants composed weekly responses to their reading, transcripts of the weekly book discussions, field notes, and entries in a resear cher reflective journal form the data for this study emphasizing the focus on the meaning these individuals brought to the phenomena studied: identity exploration within literacy events. This study addressed questions of the how a nd why of an event, and involved a variety of data, thereby making a case study methodology an appropriate choice (Yin, 2009). While case study research is someti mes viewed not as a methodology but as a choice of what is to be studied (Stak e, 2005), this study followed Creswell' s assertions: Case study is a qualitative research approach in which the investigator explores a bounded system (a case ) or multiple bounded systems (cases) over time, through
! ! 18 detailed, in depth data collection involving multiple sources of information (e. g., observations, interviews, audiovisual material, and documents and reports), and reports a case description and case based themes(italics and bold in original text). (p. 73) In the present study, selected participants are the focus of individual case st udies and the book club itself is the focus of an additional case study. T he "detailed, in d epth data collection" consisted of semi structured interviews conducted twice with each of the five girls, field notes recording observations of the girls as they p articipate d in the weekly book discussions, audio recordings of the weekly book discussions that were transcribed and analyzed, and the participants' weekl y response journals. A description of the book club through the voices and interpretations of the in dividual participants will be presented as well as themes emerging from the data. A ssumptions This study rested on several assumptions. First among these is that literacy is a sociocultural construct (Bloome & Bailey, 1992; DeBlase, 2003; Beach, 1993 ; Ga lda & Beach, 2001; Gee, 2000). Building on Louise Rosenblatt's (1978, 1995) reader response th eory in which textual meaning i s derived from a transaction between text and reader, a sociocultural perspective situates reader and text in broader cultural and historical contexts ( Sumara, 1996, 2002). As Galda and Beach (2001) state d: Students learn to respond to literature as they acquire various social practices, identities, and tools not only through participation in interpretive communities of practice, but also through experience in acquiring social practices and tools and in
! ! 19 constructing identities within specific cultural worlds (Hynds, 1997; Sumara, 1996; Wilhelm, 1997). (p. 66 67) A second assumption i s that gender is not biological, but anthropological Individuals learn to behave in culture specific, gender appropriate ways that enable them to "do" male or female (Cherland, 1994; Ortner & Whitehead, 1981). As the adolescent females in this study engage d in various discourses surrounding a share d text their responses were viewed as shaped by their social worlds and the gendered practices of those worlds. Herein is the third assumption, that literacy and gender are inextricably connected. As Bettis and Roe (2008) state d, "Gender is a cultural construc tion and reading as a social practice, unavoidably involves gender (p.3)." Readers enter the world of the text a world with its own culture and social structures. Within this world, readers position themselves just as they do in the world outside the t ext. In fiction, this positioning occurs through close engagement with the characters. A final, central as sumption critical to the study i s an expansive view of Gee's definition of Discourse to include relationships the building blocks for female iden tity exploration (Belenky et al, 1997; Gilligan, 1982; Gilligan et al, 1990; Brown & Gilligan, 1992). This assumption brings Gilligan's seminal work on women's psychological development into a postmodern perspective Limitations of the S tudy There are l imitations of this study that warrant discussion. The results of this study are not generalizable to a broader population. I make no attempt to assert that these five adolescent females from a particular school and geographical location are representativ e of all adolescent females. Believing, however, that "in the particular
! ! 20 resides the general" (Lawrence Lightfoot & Hoffman Davis, 1997, p.14), my intention was to provide a space for adolescent females to engage in literature based discourse, to document this discourse, and to contribute to "expand and generalize theories and not to enumerate frequencies" (Yin, 2009, p. 15). Semi structured interviews with the five adolescent female participan ts began and ended the study. While the intervi ews were conduc ted individually without the other participants present, there remains the possibility that the data was affected by factors pertaining to the interviewer. Beginning with the initial development of the study and continuing at every point throughout the res earch, I therefore engaged in reflexive objectivity (Kvale, 2009 ; Marshall & Rossman, 2011 ) and endeavored to mainta in sensitivity to my prejudices. I brought to this study in general and to the interviews specifically my personal bias (Patton, 2002). M y belief in the tra nsformative power of literature, and the role of reader respo nse in the literature classroom are significant aspects of who I am personally and professionally. In this study where gender and identity were central to the work, my backgroun d as an adolescent female growing up at the height of the women's movement may also have affected the interview data I collected. I was aware that studying my own students would have presented a host of potential research bias issues, and so I did not in clude them in the population of po ssible participants. A s a teacher employed at the research site, however, I understood I may have been viewed as part of the authority establishment at the student partic ipants' school rather than the outside researcher. I was aware that the students interviewed may have
! ! 21 seen me as connected to their own language arts teacher and respond in ways that may have portrayed them in a positive light pleasing the researcher to please their teacher. While the integrity of my s tudy rests in part on my awareness of these issues of bias, I chose to conduct my study at this school because of my employment there The dispassionate, disconnected, outside researcher is not the role I elected to play in the study. I was part of the s chool culture, just as the student participants were. In this way, I adopted what cultural anthropologists such as Fry and Keith (1980) refer to as an emic or insider perspective of a particular culture. The book club meetings took place after school in an off site location, but the student participants brought to the meetings and therefore to the study, their attitudes and behaviors as members of the school community/culture. This perspective is the optimum, necessary position according to Ely et al (199 1) who state: "Events can be understood adequately only if they are seen in context. Therefore, a qualitative researcher immerses her/himself in the setting" (p. 4). Transcriptions of the weekly book discussions and field notes compiled during observation s of these discussions comprised the bulk of the data collected and analyzed. The observations and interviews acted together to protect the quality of this qualitat ive study. Patton (2002) argues "Observations provide a check on what is reported in inte rviews; interviews, on the other hand, permit the observer to go beyond external behavior to explore feelings and thoughts" (p. 306). As I discuss in greater detail in the chapter outlining the methodology of this study, while the girls and the discourse t hey engage d in among themselves we re the primary focus of this study, as a participant observer my role at the discussion meetings was not a silent, passive one. Following the girls' lead, I contributed to the discussions
! ! 22 whenever I felt it was appropriat e. This, too, was part of the discourse and therefore part of the data analyzed. I have been cognizant however that my presence as a participant observer could have led to the participants altering their behavior, therefore affecting the data collected. Again, I addressed the issue of my role as a researcher, the effect my personal and professional characteristics may have on the study, and methods I employed to minimize those effects in the methodology chapter. However, as these are critical aspects o f the study, it is important that I present my awareness of these issues in this introduction. In doing so, I openly address what Denzin (2001) refers to as "the interpretive crisis" the debate concerning the issue of bias in qualitative research. My a pproach to this problem was to adopt a postmodern stance and rather than attempt to control bias, I made it visible (Scheurich, 1997). An important tool I used to achieve this visibility was my researcher reflective journal (Janesick, 2004). Chapter S umma ry In this introductory chapter I have laid the foundation for the study. I provided a personal, researcher context as well as a clear statement of the background, problem, and significance of the study. I presented a brief overview of Rosenblatt's ( 1978, 1998) experience based view of reader response as the theoretical framework informing the design, process, and analysis stages of this work providing the lens through which the following exploratory questions were viewed: 1. What elements constitute se lect ed adolescent girls' perceptions of identity through an after school book club? 2. What elements influence their self identity expression?
! ! 23 I emphasized one of the unique features of the present study over other similar studies involving adolescent f emales' identity development through participation in a book club as the feminist methodology woven throughout all aspects of the study. Again, while other studies mention the seminal work of Gilligan (1982, 1993, 1993) in developing a theory of women's p sychological development through listening to the voices and perspectives of adolescent females, they lack the deliberate emphasis on feminist methodology Gilligan herself emphasized, espoused, and employed in her own research. T erminology used throughout the study must be clarified at the onset in order for the reader to understand the unique perspectives employed. I have attempted to accomp lish this in defining key terms such as adolescent, identity, gender, and book club. Providing initial definitions of the terms as used in the present study offers a foundation for the in depth exploration of these concepts in the chapter two review of li terature in which I further situated the terms in theoretical and research contexts. While case study as the methodology used in the study will be discussed thoroughly in the third chapter, I provided a brief overview of both how and why I will adopt this methodology in researching adolescent females' identity exploration in a book club. I have also outlined the various forms of data I will collect during the study: semi structured interviews, field notes, response journals, discussion transcripts, and a re searcher reflective journal. The multiple forms of data collected and a need to provide in depth descriptions of participants and themes make case study an appropriate choice (Creswell, 2007; Stake, 2005; Yin, 2009 ; Merriam, 2009; Marshall & Rossman, 2011 ) Following qualitative research practices, I began the important practice of making my bias transparent to the reader and discussed assumptions upon which the study rests.
! ! 24 My views of literacy as a sociocultural construct (Bloome & Bailey, 1992; DeBlase, 2003; Beach, 1993 ; Galda & Beach, 2001; Gee, 2000), reading as a transactional event between reader and text (Rosenblatt 1978, 1995), and the anthropological nature of gender (Cherland, 1994; Ortner & Whitehead, 1981) are critical concepts in understanding how I approached the present study. Also contributing to making my bias transparent to the reader is the discussion concerning the limitations of the study. In addressing the issues of generalizability and researcher bias in my role as a teacher at the si te and how I addressed those issues with continued transparency, I embraced a practice key to strong qualitative research. Rather than attempting to control bias, I made it visible. My deliberate use of a researcher reflective journal, aspects of which are included in subsequent chapters of the dissertation, was essential to achieving this goal of bias visibility. As the review of literature following in the next chapter will show, the dual topics of female adolescent literacy and young adult liter ature ar e seldom examined alone and rarely in combination. Yet teacher education programs require coursework focusing on adolescent development and adolescent literature emphasizing that knowledge in these areas is important to effective teaching. Kindlon's ass ertions, too, point to the need to revisit earlier findings concerning adolescent females (Gilligan, 1982, 1990, 1993). Who are these adolescent females? Alpha girls or Ophelias? Perhaps both? And in this process of becoming, exploring, developing, what ro le does reading play? I embark on the present study, therefore, prepared to do as I have always done in my fifteen years as a classroom teacher: listen to the voices of adolescents to provide insight into the world of adolescence.
! ! 25 Chapter Two Review of Literature Researchers engage in their work with the goal of contributing to the current knowledge base in a particular field. Understanding the nature of that current knowledge base is essential, then, in order to situate this study within a broader r esearch framework. Th e purpose of the present study wa s to describe and explain selected adolescent girls' perceptions of identity through an after school book club. The following exploratory questions guided the analysis: 1. What elements constitute selecte d ad olescent girls' perceptions of identity through an after school book club? 2. What elements influence their self identity expression? While a study involving adolesce nt females' identity expression during participation in an after school book club con tains numerous facets, I limit ed my review of literatur e to four key areas, which in turn be came the focus of data analysis and address ed the exploratory questions. In the first section, I discuss sociocultural theory, beginning with a definition used in this study, continuing with descriptions of major theori sts in the field, and conclude with exploration of sociocultural theory in the world of education and literacy. In presenting the review of literature concerning sociocultural theory at the onset of the chapter, I indicat e the intricate connections theory has with other aspects of the study.
! ! 26 Book clubs, reader response theory, identity explorati on as well as the two exploratory questions all reflect an emphasis on the social and cultural environment. Whi le sociocultural theory occupied a crit ical role in the study, I chose reader response as the theoretical framework. Reader response was selected as the more appropriate lens for the study as it offered a broad theoretical foundation t o support the stu dy, while all owing a more focused exploration of the act of reading within social and cultural contexts therefore faci litating addressing the exploratory questions. I chose to place a significant emphasis on the theoretical aspects of sociocultural theory and reader response theory. While too often simplistically reduced to single theories, both sociocultural theory and reader response theory are much more complex and are in actuality overarching terms which a more careful, detailed examination reveals cont ains a myriad of individual perspectives and forms. In order to situ ate the present study that drew heavily from both of these theories, I have presented in depth discussions of those myriad perspectives and forms. As a result, the reader has a clearer, mo re focused understanding of the specific perspective adopted in this study. In the third section of the chapter, I shift to discussing adoles cent girls' identity expression focusing specifically on developmental psychologists key to this study. This disc ussion will help situate both the first exploratory question: "What elements constitute selected adolescent girls' perceptions of identity? And the second question: "What influences their self identity expression?" Again, presenting a detailed descripti on of theories and theorists in this area provides necessary clarification and focus concerning the unique perspectives employed. Other studies with a similar focus on adolescent female identi ty development and literacy relied on one of the male centered t heories of
! ! 27 identity development discussed in this section. As this study is unique in its relationship view of female adolescent ident ity development (Gilligan, 1982, 1993; Gilligan, et al. 1990) that stands in contrast to the male centered theories emphas izing separation, a thorough discussion of these various theories is critical. In the fourth and final section of this literature review, I e xplore the area of book clubs emphasizing their historical background and role in both inside and outside of th e classroom environment. A thorough discussion of book clubs as well as the related topic of literature in the lives of adolescent females is essential in understanding the context in which both of the exploratory questions occupy. Sociocultural T heory The present study described and explained selected adolescent females' perceptions of identity in an after school book club. The social nature of book club activities, therefore, required a review of literature on sociocultural theory. In this section of t he literature review, I provide an overview and historical background of sociocultural theory, including the central theorists in the field. I then expand the discussion by describing the research that has been conducted linking sociocultural theory and t he areas of education and literacy. Overview and Historical B ackground Sociocultural theory views human development as an active process of interacting with the environment and therefore must be viewed within social, cultural, and historical contexts ( Vy gotsky, 1978; Wertsch, 1993 ; Luria, 1976). With roots in the work of psychologist Lev Vygotsky in the 1920s and 30s, sociocultural theory stands in contrast with the perspectives of other human development theorists such as Piaget, for
! ! 28 ex ample, who viewed individuals constructing knowledge with increasing complexity and along a developmental, age dependent continuum. According to Vygotsky (1978), individuals' actions must be viewed as intricately connected to their social and cultural environment: Every f unction in the child's cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention to logical memory, and to the formation of concepts. All the higher functions originate as actual relati onships between individuals. (p. 57) One aspect of Vygotsky's work that has become well known by classroom teachers is his concept of a zone of proxim al development According to Vygotsky (1978), for each individual there exists a level of learning just beyond one's current level out of reach for the individual acting alone, but attainable with the aid or scaffolding of another, more knowledgeable in dividual. Emphasizing the critical interdependence of learners, Vygotsky stated, "With assistance every child can do more than he can by himself" (p. 87). T he power of novice expert interaction in learning is a concept with historical roots in American educational theory as we ll. Pragmatist John Dewey (1956 ), acknowledged the power of social interaction in learning stati ng: The social environment is truly educative in its effects in the degree in which an individual shares or participates in some conjoint activity. By doing his share in the associated activity, the individual appropriates the purpose which actuates
! ! 29 it, becomes familiar with its methods and subject matters, acquires needed skill, and is saturated with its emotional spirit. (p. 26) Dewey's perspective on the "educative" power of the social environment as individuals participate in a "conjoint activity" he lps situate the present study in which adolescent females read and discuss ed shared text s in a book club, while indicating a need for such a study. Dewey's theoretical statement describes in broad strokes how individuals are shaped by interacting with oth ers, giving rise to questions concerning the specific nature of that shaping. For example, how does the act of appropriation occur? If the conjoint activity is a book club, is the social environment restricted to the actual gathering of the reading member s, or is the text world also a social environment in which the individual readers interact with and through characters in associated activities? What happens when an individual is "saturated with its (the conjoint activity) emotional spirit "? Does this s aturation involve the individual's development or expression of his or her self identity? Clearly, Dewey's statement indicates the need for research in which broad statements are refined a nd focused. The exploratory questions in the present study provide d a method for accomplishing this refinement and focus. Sociocultural Theory and L iteracy Within a sociocultural framework, learning is regarded as much more than either a static discovery of knowledge or a passive receiving of knowledge by an individual Learning is an active, transformative process. Rogoff (1995) asserted "People change through transforming their participation in sociocultural activities in which both the individual and the rest of the world are active" (p. 266). Building on the fo undation laid by Vygotsky, Rogoff and other socio cultural theorists (John Steiner & Mah n, 1997 ;
! ! 30 Luria, 1976) Rogoff maintain ed that through interacting with skilled experts, novice learners acquir e cultural tools of thought, ultimately transforming these t ools for individual cognitive activities. Language is therefore a cultural t ool. Rogoff (1995, 2003) specified three planes of focus: apprenticeship (a metaphor of craft apprenticeship in which a less experienced individual learns under the tutelage of so meone more knowledgeable), guided participation (communication processes between participants in a culturally valued activity), and participatory appropriation defined as: Participatory appropriation is the personal process by which, through engagement in an activity, individuals change and handle a later situation in ways prepared by their own participation in the previous situation. This is a process of becoming, rather than acquisition (1995, p. 25) Groundbreaking work in the field of sociocultural the ory and literacy is Shirley Brice Heath's (1983) nine year (1969 1978) ethnographic study of minority a nd working class students in three communities in the Piedmont Carolinas, R oadville, Trackton and Maintown In this study, Heath explored the cultural nature of language and literacy by recording and interpreting the language of young school children. Finding significant differences in terms of language expectations in the home and scho ol environments, Heath maintained "(The) place of language in the c ultural life of each social group is interdependent with the habits and values of behaving shared among members of that group" (p. 11). Sharing her findings with teachers involved in the study, Heath helped them discover ways they could bridge the home sch ool language dichotomy, not by lowering standards or expectations, but by acknowledging and respecting the students' home literacies as a foundation for further learning.
! ! 31 Heath stated The ethnographies of communication in Roadville and Trackton became instrumental for teachers and students bringing language and culture differences and discovering how to recognize and use language as power. (p. 266) Adopting the sociocultural framework, researchers continue to explore culture as shaping literacy practic es, with particular emphasis on the home schoo l conflict students often face and the need for teaching practice that begin with respect for home literacies as students are taught how to successfully engage in classroom discour se (Delpit, 1988; Hewlett, 199 6 ). Au (1998) further asserts that consideration of students' diverse backgrounds holds the potential for closi ng the literacy achievement gap and offers five explanations for this gap: linguistic differences, cultural differences, discrimination, inferi or education, and rationales for schooling. Reviewing research with similar features of this present study: adolescent females, book clubs, and identity exploration elicited a stu dy by DeBlase (2003) who asserted the critical role sociocultural theory mus t play in studies involving literacy and female identity exploration. Finding that the 8 th grade girls participating in her study "took up competing social messages about gendered identity in the different kinds of texts the y read" (p. 624), DeBlase wrote : B ecause literacy is a sociocultural construct, it needs to be seen through the layering and intertextuality of lived experience that shapes and constrains girls' k nowledge a nd the gendered ways they learn to participate in society. (p. 629)
! ! 32 New Trends in Sociocultural T heory A review of the literature on sociocultural theory reveals the constantly evolving nature of this perspective on human development and learning. Lewi s, Enciso and Moje (2007) acknowledge the value of sociocultural theory stating, Sociocultural theory has allowed us to explore the intersection of social, cultural, historical, mental, physical, and more recently, political aspects of people's sense makin g, interaction, and learning around texts. (p.2) They also, however, found a deficit in the theory. Explaining that traditional definitions of sociocultural theory fail to include issues of power, identity, and agency, they offer ed a new term for this ex panded form of sociocultural theory that encompasses these often ignored issues : "critical sociocultural theory." Beach's (2000 ) sociocultural activity theory of learning further indicates the new dimensions this theory continues to adopt. According to Beach, activity theory is a form of sociocultural theory in which "participants learn within an activity driven by the need to achieve a certain object or outcome" (p.1). Examples of an activity/activity system include a family, a church group, a school, a profession; systems comprised of objects/outcomes, tools, rules, roles, and community change. Asserting that activity theory holds particular relevance and usefulness for reader response based research, Beach maintains that while Rosenblatt's transactio nal model of reader response emphasizes the act of reading as a social event, the model lacks specificity in identifying the components that shape the event. Through adopting an activity theory lens, the reader and the text are viewed as participating in specific activity systems. R esearchers are then
! ! 33 able to explore how the specific components of the system (object/outcomes, tools, etc.) shape response. In the present study, th e book club was viewed as a single literacy event comprised of multiple lite racy events. T he book club also embodied features of an a ctivity system. Following Beach's model, the objects/outcomes were the books the group read. Tools include the books, journals, and the weekly discussions. Rules created and maintained include th e schedule for reading the two books and the requirement to write in the reader response journals. Beach's work not only underscores the sociocultural view of reader response theory (discussed in the next section) that provides the framework for t he study, but also informed the methodology. Reader Response T heory The present study's two exploratory questions were viewed in the context of a book club. Participants engaged in reading the text as an individual activity at home. While at various times sec tions of the text were read aloud during discussion meetings, the participants' experiences engaging in the narrowly defined act of reading as the performance of a skill involving decoding text on a page, occurred as individual, solitary events. The indiv idual transaction between solitary reader and text is often regarded as a sort of standard model of reader response theory. The present study, embracing a marriage of reader response and sociocultural theory attempted to expand this standard model. Theref ore, t o more fully understand the posi tion this current study occupied I will present an overview of reader response theory. Again, my approach in reviewing the literature on this topic was first to read broadly and widely, and then narrow my focus to
! ! 34 re search with features similar to my own study: specifically, adolescent readers, small group discussions, and educationa l settings. Overview I begin this section of my review of literature cognizant of the problems inherent in approaching the topic of research in reader response theory. In "Research on Response to Literature" Marshall (2000) share d a number of caveats when attempting to define the word response Marshall maintained: The word [response] implies a passivity on the part of the responder, locating initial agency in the text responded to. The text acts on the reader, and the reader responds in some describable way. But such a view of reading has little in common with the largely constructionist theory that has framed reading research sine the mid 1970s The reader, in these arguments, is conceived as an active maker of meaning rather than a passive receiver, and the word response fails to carry the message of agency. (pp. 381 382) The medium in which the act of reading becomes visible to the research, according to Marshall, presents a further complication. Whereas a writer's work is directly represented in the writing, a reader's work must be transmitted in some way and each method must be acknowledged as being part of the reader's resp onse. Marshall's insistence is that responses are mediated by the method of representation and therefore must be examined as a whole: One reader's response to literature, then, can never be studied apart from medium in which it appears, and the response i tself must be understood as shaped by the
! ! 35 conventions of that medium, and by the reader's familiarity and skill with those conventions. (Marshall, 2000, p. 382) As partici pants in the present study read silently and then transmit ted their responses first i ndividually through written entries in journals, and later via verbal discourse with other book club members, Marshall's assertion of the necessity to examine response within the context of the medium in wh ich it appears held particular importance in terms of data analysis. Transcripts of the journal response s and the group discussions were coded using the same process but results were analyzed and reported contextually, reflecting the tenets of sociocultural theory foundational to the study. Cognizant o f Marshall's caveats in discussing this topic, I present the following gener al definition offered by Langer (2000) as a way to begin a more in depth exploration of specific forms of reader response theory: [Reader response theorists] all see meaning as res iding in the reader (although they differ in the degree of reader/text interaction), and regard readers as active constructors of meaning with personal knowledge, beliefs, and histories that affect their responses and interpretations, thus creating the pot en tial for more than one correct' interpretation. From such perspectives, instruction focuses on arriving at defensible meanings and refining them as well as considering the validity of other responses. (pp. 1 2) The "degree of reader/text interaction" th at Langer referenced wa s a key point in arriving at a working definition of rea der response theory used in the present study. Broadly, reader response theory differs from other approaches such as New Criticism theory for its focus on the reader. W hile so me reader response theorists view meaning residing in the
! ! 36 reader (Bleich, 1975; Fish, 1980 ), others view reading as a process or transaction between reader and text (I ser, 1978; Rosenblatt, 1978, 1995 ). This latter view has been particularly embraced as a pedagogical practi ce (Britton, 1970; Hynds, 19 90; Langer, 2000) and is the theoretical lens used in this study. Experience based Views of Reader R esponse While the view of literature as possessing a transformative power to enact some type of chan ge on the reader is often acknowledged as a recent perspective, the historical roots can be traced to the 1920s and 30s most notably with the 1938 publication of Louise Rosenblatt's seminal text, Literature as Exploration Rejecting New Criticism theory in which text is examined for one specific, universal meaning; Rosenblatt instead emphasized the transactional experience of th e reader engaging with the text. Responses to literature are, therefore, unique to each rea der. In the preface to The Reader, the Text, and the Poem Rosenblatt stated: The current climate favors another of my emphasesthat there is no such thing as a generic reader, that each reading involves a particular person at a particular time and place, underlies the importance of such factors in the transaction as gender, ethnic and socioeconomic background, and cultural environment. (p. viii) As a transaction, reading is therefore a two way process, resulting in not only a unique meaning for the reader, but a potentially transformative o ne. Highlighting the adolescent reader specifically, Rosenblatt stated: The adolescent particularly may be helped to interpret his own acutely self conscious emotions and motivationsBooks may help the adolescent perceive
! ! 37 t he validity of his own temperamental bent, even when that bent may not be valued by his own environment. (p.192) Rosenblatt (1995 ) further acknowledged the unique challenges of female adolescents and the ability of literature to help girls explore gender r oles: The adolescent worry over the need to conform to the culturally dominant pictures of the temperamental traits, types of work, and modes of behavior appropriate to each of the sexes can be lessened through a wide circle of literary acquaintances. The young girl may need to be liberated from the narrow view of the feminine role imposed by her milieu. (p.193) Within the transactional view of reader response, the act of reading is seen as multidimensional. According to Ro senblatt (1978), readers engage in both aesthetic and efferent reading experiences. Comprehension of basic factual information is considered an efferent approach; aesthetic experiences, on the other hand, involve unique, meaning making interactions between reader and text. Process b as ed Views of Reader R esponse Other reader response theorists have built upon Rosenblatt's work by viewing a reader's engagement with the text as a process. Beach and Marshall (1990) describe five steps in the response process: engaging, constructing, ima ging, connecting, and evaluating/reflecting. Langer, too, embraces a process oriented approach to reader response and sees readers as adopting certain stances in the process of building understanding a process she terms envisionment building (Table 1). In a two year case study involving 14 middle and high school English teachers, Langer (2000) studied how literature instruction that acknowledged and supported
! ! 38 students' stances in the envisionment building process could also support their intellectual gr owth. Examining instances where students actively engaged in constructing understanding of the text, Langer found "the classrooms became cultural contexts that both called for and expected the active thought and participation of each student" (p. 18). La nger describe d the specific characteristics o f effective instruction stating: Envisionment building was supported through discussing and writing about literature, the primary instructional focus was on the exploration of possibilities rather than maintaini ng a point of reference, the social contexts taught students ways to discuss and ways to think about literature, and they provided small group activities in which students could use their new knowledge and strategies on their own. (p. 18) Stance Strategies Being Out and Stepping into an Envisionment Forms tentative questions and associations in attempt to build text world Being In and Moving Through an Envisionment Uses local envisionments and personal knowledge to build and elaborate understandings Step ping Back and Rethinking What One Knows Uses growing understandings to rethink previously held ideas, beliefs, or feelings Stepping Out and Objectifying the Experience Distances self from text to examine, evaluate, or analyze the reading experience or asp ects of the text Table 1: Langer's Envisionment Building Stances While the present study explored reader response outside the classroom environment, it wa s also built on a foundation of "discussing and writing about literature" in a small group soci al co ntext. Langer's work therefore inform ed m y work as I described and explained the adolescent girls' literary discussions.
! ! 39 Text based Views of Reader R esponse Reader response theory is often simplistically reduced to definitions reflecting the belief tha t there is a single, unified perspective associated with this theory a perspective which holds that a text's meaning is created by the reader. Contrasting the New Criticism Theory's focus on issues outside of the text (historical, authorial, etc.), read er response theory is, nonetheless, much more complex than a reader as meaning maker view held by many. Iser's (1978) textual theory of response reflects this complexity. For Iser, the process of meaning making consists of the reader following clues and signals in the text enabling him or her to fill in gaps. The inde terminacy of the text invites what Iser termed an "implied reader" to enter and actively participate in the text world, a world in which the reader encounters the real and the possible simul taneously. While Iser viewed indeterminacy as an invitation for multiple text readings, there are "degrees of indeterminacy." So while texts are open to many interpretations, they are not open to all. These constraints are especially problematic for re ader response theorists such as Stanley Fish who disagree d with a perspective in which text is seen as an objective given. Social Theories of R esponse As a dialogic theorist, Bakhtin (198 1) emphasized the inextricable link between an individual's utte rance of their response to a text and their achieving an understanding of the text: Understanding comes to fruition only in the response. Understanding and response are dialectically merged and mutually condition each other; one is impossible with the oth er. (p. 282)
! ! 40 In classrooms, these utterances occur in a social setting, and are shaped through interactions with others. Many feminist theorists have built upon this aspect of Bakhtin's theory and criticized classroom response to literature practices as reflecting a masculine gender orientation. L amb (1991), for example, asserted that teachers construct both classroom discussions and writing assignments in which students are instructed to adopt an adversarial position of convincing a reader to accept a p articular response as valid. According to Lamb, this adversarial approach embraces the exertion of power of one reader over another. Lamb and other feminist theorists maintain ed that when teachers employ and encourage a power based, adversarial stance in response to literature, they marginalize and silence females for whom connectedness and relationships are of primary importance (Belenky et al, 1997; Gilligan, 1982; Gilligan et al, 1990; Brown & Gilligan, 1992) As a result, t he literacy events occur rin g in a classroom are often based on a masculine gender orientation. Entering the study, I wondered: A s the girls share d their individual responses to literature outside of the classroom environment and with only other females present, wh at kinds of liter acy events would take place? Would the girls reflect the masculine based classroom practices in thei r book club interactions, or wou l d the female based social environment of the book club encourage connectedness and relationships, offering space for them to make their voices heard? Adolescent Girls and I dentity The two exploratory questions focus on adolescent females' perceptions of identity and the elements that influence their self identity expression. Identity is therefore a critical concept centra l to the study. As stated in the definitions of terms
! ! 41 section of Chapter One, this study employ ed a sociocultural view of identity. The review of literature focusing on adoles cent girls and identity begin s with a discussion of the theoretical background on identity, reflecting an evolving perspective on the topic. Early theorists viewed identity as an internal, self fashioning process reflecting a life stages perspectiv e on human development. This wa s followed by a view of identity as a sociocultural pr ocess in which individuals developed both a personal and social identity. Finally, postmodern perspectives arose in which identity is seen as fluid and constituted in discourse. Theoretical B ackground Adoles cence is generally viewed as a period of hu man development marked by a particular focus on the formation of a sense of selfhood, a sense of identity ( Erickson, 1963, 1964, 1968 ). While Erickson remains the theorist most frequently associated with the concept of adolescent identity, there exist o ther perspectives often in sharp contrast to Erickson. In subsequent chapters I share findings addressing the present study's first exploratory question: What elements constitute selected adolescent girls' perspectives on identity? In sharing those findi ngs, I present the participants' perspectives on identity as valued viewpoints standing alone, and also in light of theorists in this field. Workin g within this framework, I discuss the theory and research of four key individuals: Erickson, Marcia, Groteva nt, and Gilligan. Identity viewed as part of life cycle stages. Rejecting Freud's singular focus on sexuality as the basis for persona lity description, Erickson (1963, 1964, 1968 ) developed a theory of development based upon his clinical observations as a psychoanalyst,
! ! 42 asserting that throughout the human life cycle, healthy individuals move through eight psychosocial stages of development. Movement from one stage to the next involved a crisis (or turning point), stated Erickson, and with the aid of other s, an individual would be able to resolve the crisis and successfully continue to the next stage. Further emphasizing the social nature of identity development, Erickson (1968) stated, "Identity is all pervasive' for we deal with a process located' in the core of the individual and yet also in the core of h is communal culture" (p. 22). Erickson's stages are often divided into two sections: in the first four stages, individuals are attempting to make sense of the world, and in the second group of f our stages, individuals are attempting to make sense of who they are. Adolescence then, in Erickson's view, is a stage of human development involving identity formation, including sexual identity and gender roles As a psycho social theory, Erickson's pre mise of identity formation emphasizes that during this stage, young adults "try on" various identities. Therefore identity formation necessarily involves identity exploration While the term "identity crisis" has been appropriated from Erickson with an ad ded connotation of crisis as catastrophe, for E rickson, crisis simply indicates a turning point in development. Resolving this identity crisis, adolescents then develop fidelity, which Erickson defines as "the ability to sustain loyalties freely pledged i n spite of the inevitable contradictions of value systems'" (1964, p. 125). In other words, young adults move into the next stage able to form relationships with a variety of people, having formed a sense of their own identity. If the crisis is unresolve d, however, the result is identity confusion both in terms of a personal and social identity. In his Identity
! ! 43 Status Model ", Marcia (1966, 1980 ) later proposed specific methods adolescents could employ to achieve identity crisis resolution. Before end ing the present discussion on Erickson and moving to a focus on Marcia, one final point about Erickson pertinent to this study should be made. Erickson states identity development differs for male and female adolescents. For the female, Erickson (1968) s ays, the sequence is a bit different. According to Erickson, a female holds her identity in abeyance as she prepares to attract the man by whose name she will be known, by whose status she will be defined the man who will rescue her from emptiness and loneliness by filling the "inner space." (Gilligan, 1982, p. 12) This aspect of Erickson's work will be a key point during a later discussion of psychologist and former Erickson student, Carol Gilligan. Identity development as a dynamic "self structure." While Marcia concurred with Erickson that identity was not a single fixed entity individuals discovered or achieved at a particular point in their lives, never to be further shaped or altered, he further refined Erickson's psychosocial model of identity de velopment by placing particular emphasis on identity formation as a no n linear process. Marcia stated "I would like to propose another way of construing identity: as a self structure an internal, self constructed, dynamic organization of drives, abili ties, beliefs, and individual history" ( p. 159) According to Marcia (1980), the self structure constituting identity involves the adoption of a sexual orientation, a set of values and ideals, and a vocational direction. Adolescence, therefore, is a peri od of human development in which individuals engage in both exploration and commitment to a sense of identity in various life domains including vocation, religion, relational choices, and gender roles. While Erickson asserted that an
! ! 44 unresolved identity c risis resulted in identity confusion, Marcia (1980) viewed identity formation as a matter of the degree to which an individual adopted each aspect of the self structure, stating, The better developed this structure is, the more individuals appear to be of their own strengths and weaknessesThe less developed the structure is, the more confused individuals seem to be about their own distinctiveness from others and the more they have to rely on external sources to evaluate themselves. (p. 159) Developing a protocol for semi structured interviews, Marcia researched the ways adolescents engaged in identity formation. From this research, Marcia posited an Identity Status Model. Identity as exploration Like Marcia, Grotevant (1987) adopted an Ericksonian ps ychosocial view of identity development, and valued the work of Marcia's Identity Status Model for emphasizing two key elements in this process: exploration of alternatives and commitment to choices The framework is developmental in its focus on the pro cess of forming a sense of identity. It is contextual in that it considers the interdependent roles of society, family, peers, and school or work environments in identity formation. Finally, it is life span in scope. Identity formation is viewed as a li fe long task that has its roots in the development of the self in infancy. (p. 2) Still Grotevant maintained the need existed for research focusing on the processes associated with the identity statuses, rather than the statuses themselves. For Grotevant, then, exploration is key: Identity exploration (emphasis in original) may be defined as problem solving behavior aimed at eliciting information about oneself or one's environment in order to make a decision about an important life choice." (p. 3)
! ! 45 As th e present study focused on adolescents, it should be emphasized again that Grotevant viewed identity formation as a life long task beginning in infancy, with adolescence a period in which an individual's identity is reformulated as "a function of mature co gnitive abilities, a facilitative environment, and being potentially open to modification throughout adulthood" (p. 2). Clinging to a stage based theory of identity development Grotevant, lik e Erickson and Marcia, continued the hierarchical view of identi ty a view which perpetuates the myth of adolescence as a period of time marked almost exclusively by hormone induced turmoil. According to Moje (2002), the consequences of this commonly held notion have been a deval uing of individuals in this age bracke t, leading to research with a skewed view of adolescents and their literacy practices: If we took seriously the idea that adolescents are sophisticated meaning makers who use various texts to represent or construct identities and subject positions in the w orld, then we might not neglect to examine youth's meaning making. We might find that we could learn something about meaning through literacy as well. (p. 215) Personal identity and discursive practices According to Gee, identity is a complex concept. In contrast to the life cycle, stage views espoused by Erickson and oth ers, Gee reflects a postmodern perspective in which the focus cannot be on the individual in isolation (an impossible phenomenon in a postmodern view), but on the individuals, as well a s social and political institutions and structures, within which the in dividual exists. Gee posited individuals possess multiple identities shaped by those individuals and institutions and used by the individual in various discourse practices. While asse rting the
! ! 46 presence and importance of these multiple identities, Gee also acknowledged the existence of a "core identity" which remains fairl y constant. Gee (2000) explained the process stating : Each person has had a unique trajectory through Discourse sp ace.' That is, he or she has, through time, in a certain order, had specific experiences within specific Discourses (i.e., be recognized, at a time and place, one way and not another), some recurring and others not. This trajectory and the person's own n arrativization (Mishler, 2000) of it are what constitute his or her (never fully formed or always potentially changing) core identity.' (p. 111) Gee concluded this explanation by emphasizing again the sociocultural nature of identity: The Discourses are social and historical, but the person's trajectory and narrativization are individual (though an individuality that is fully socially formed and informed). (p. 111) Gee's research is especially noteworthy for an expansive perspective on what constitutes di scourse and how individuals operating within those environments are afforded the opportunity to explore multiple identities and become what Gee referred to as "s hape shifting portfolio people." With an emphasis on multiple, changing identities shaped by a nd within discourse communities and practices, Gee's theoretical perspectives inform ed this study with adolescent females exploring identities in discursive practices within the texts they read, the journals in which they will write, and among the various members of the book club. However, Gee's work follows in the male centered footsteps of Erickson concepts developed from research with primarily male participants are then applied to both males and females.
! ! 47 While Gee separates an individual's stable, c ore identity (what is often referred to as personal identity, selfhood or simple self), from multiple, contextually dependent, social identities Harre and others (Harre & Moghaddam, 2003; Harre and van Lagenhove, 1999) employ positioning theory as "a me taphor to enable an investigator to grasp how persons are located' within conversations as observable and subjectively coherent participants in jointly produced storylines." (Harre and van Lagenhove, 1999, p. 61) Rather than being distinct and separate from one another, an individual's personal identity and social identity (or identities) engage in "critical dialogue" in which the social shapes and formulates the personal. Reflecting the postmodern perspective of identity as constituted in discourse, p ositioning theory includes a view of individuals as active participants within these social practices. Harre and van Lagenhove (1999) maintain ed: The discursive practices of positioning make possible three ways of expressing and experiencing one's person al identity or unique selfhood: by stressing ones' agency in claiming responsibility for some action; by indexing one's statements with the point of view one has on its relevant world; or by presenting a description/evaluation of some past event or episod e to one's biography. (p. 61) This empowered, agentive view of individuals engaging in discourse is pertinent to this study as f emale book club participants me t to share their individual views of a shared text. Female identity development: relationship b ased. Psychologist Carol Gilligan critic ized classic psychological models such as Erickson's view of identity formation for their nearly exclusive research on boys research Gilligan claimed ignore the unique features of fema le development. Gilligan stat ed "Implicitly adopting the male life as the
! ! 48 norm, (psychological theorists) have tried to fashion women out of a masculine cloth." (1982, p. 6). Gil ligan's work, therefore, focused specifically on female adolescent development. First a student of Erick son and later a researcher working with Kohlberg, Gilligan rejected the male centered theories of human development in which females a re often viewed as inferior or abnormal when their processes of i dentity or moral development do not mirror what has been presented as the standard for all human beings. The journey to discover the nature of women's psycholog y led Gilligan to what she termed the "crossroad in women's development" adolescence. In a five year study of nearly 100 girls between the ages of seven and eighteen at the Laurel School for girls in Cleveland, Ohio, Brown and Gilligan (1992) began their research following a quantitative design in which participants were randomly assigned to either a research or control group. Girls in the experimen tal group would be asked open ended questions with the assumption that these types of questions would encourage the girls to open up to the researchers and provide information about their emotions, relationships, and conflicts. The control group would be interviewed in a standard psychological method in which hypothetical situations and probing questions would be presented for the girls to offer responses regarding. What Brown and Gilligan discovered, however, was that instead of offering a vehicle for a llowing the girls to openly share their perspectives with the researchers, both interview methods distanced the girls who ultimately shut down. Finally listening to the girls who clearly expressed their frustrations with the way the researchers distanced and separated themselves from them, Gilligan and Brown redesigned their study in such a way that allowed them to establish authentic relationships with the girls, and emphasized
! ! 49 the need to deeply listen to the voices of the girls. What Brown and Gilligan discovered illuminated the previously ignored differences between male and female identity: The contrast between a self defined through separation and a self delineated through connection, between a self measured against an abstract ideal of perfection an d a self assessed through particular activities of care, becomes clearer and the implications of this contrast extend by considering the different ways these children resolve a conflict between responsibility to others and responsibility to self. (p. 35) T hese differences in how males and females define themselves, according to Gilligan (1982), also affect gender identity development: "Since masculinity is defined through separation while femininity is defined through attachment, male gender identity is thr eatened by intimacy while female gender identity is threatened by separation." (p. 8) A relationship based view of female identity development is particularly relevant in light of research indicating that adolescence is a time when a child's self esteem de creases especially with females (Atwater, 1992). Gilligan and others (Gilligan, Ward, & Taylor, 1988; Brown and Gilligan, 1992 ) have found that for females this loss of selfhood is often due to "silence, conformity, or submission" in reaction to the "me ssage to be humble, to show stoicism, selflessness or sacrifice" (Stringer, 1994, p.1). The present study built upon the foundation Gilligan laid in which female adolescent ide ntity is defined, explored, developed and expressed through relationships. T he study explored forms of relationships, however, corresponding with a postmodern pers pective. A central assumption wa s that relationships are a form of Discourse. Therefore, as female participants read, journal ed and discuss ed a shared text, I explore d the discursive relationships present. Discursive relationships with the characters
! ! 50 (especially the female protagonists), intrapersonal discursive relationships evident in the response journals, and intrapersonal discursive relationships evident in the b ook club discussions all were considered. In this way, Gilligan's relationship based view of fem ale identity development was viewed from a postmodern perspective and explored within the context of literacy events. Book C lubs The purpose of the present st udy was to describe and explain selected adolescent females' perceptions of identity through participation in a book club. To situate the present study, therefore, I explore the topic of book clubs in general, then focus more specifically on women's parti cipation in book clubs historically, and end with a discussion of the research conducted on adolescent females' participation in book clubs. Background The view of literacy activities as social endeavors are modern constructs. The writer, scribbling awa y in a garret is one perhaps still held by many. And while historians have significant evidence that prolific poet and playwright William Shakespeare's works were highly collaborative, the search for the "master text" penned solely in Shakespeare's hand c ontinues. Reading, too, is seen as a solitary act. According to sociologist Elizabeth Long (1993) the image of the solitary reader is one that dates back to early Christian art in the medieval era with images of the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene read ing the bo oks of hours and psalters These representations perpetuated, too, the elitist view of reading. And while reading as an aristocratic pursuit began to change in the 17 th 18 th and 19 th centuries, accordi ng to Long, the vision of the
! ! 51 reader withd rawn from the world remain ed firmly in place. In the mid to late 19 th century, though, a n ew image began to appear: women's literary societies. Women and Book C lubs Free from their domestic roles and a male dominated world (at least temporarily), wome n began to gather together to engage in what Heath would later term literacy events. But while discussing a shared text was the overt agenda, the literary societies had a covert purpose as well. Much more than book discussions took place. I n fact Long po inted to a significant amount of evidence from studies of 19 th and 20 th century suffragists that within these women's literary societies women gathered for the first time to discuss "the woman question" (1993). According to Radway (1997), all female book discussion groups as sites of empowerment and agency for its members can be attributed to "the particular cultural power associated withacquiring, owning, reading, and talking about books" (p.8). Literature in the Lives of Adolescent F emales B efore exploring the literature surrounding adolescent females and book club participation, a brief discussion concerning the broader topic of the role of literature in adolescent females' lives is important in contextualizing the present study. Research indicates that the nature of the texts themselves contributes to the atmosphere of empowerment and agency Radway (1997) described. In "Girls and Reading: The Desire for Agency and the Horror of Helplessness in Fictional Encounters," Cherland and Edelsky ( 1994) present ed a view of fiction as a vehicle used by adolescent girls to explore female agency outside the realm of patriarchal societal norms. In an ethnographic study of seven girls, ages 11 and 12, living in a small, middle
! ! 52 class Canadian community, Cherland and Edelsky asked the following research question: "What does reading fiction mean to these sixth grade girls?" From participant observation, interview transcripts (girls, parents, and teachers), literature response group transcripts, and researc her participant dialogue journals focusing on the books b eing read, Cherland and Edelsky found that reading fiction did promote notions of female agency, but not in a simplistic, transmission style. Far from being passive recipients, the girls in the stud y used their reading of fiction to explore other types of agency and to imagine themselves using other forms of power (p.42). Cherland and Edelsky state d, Reading fiction is one site in which children can confront their culture and construct its meaning s for their individual lives. Reading fiction is a social practice through which children seek to understand their own places in the world. (p. 42) Female readers and textual relationships Interviewing 33 adolescent girls from diverse backgrounds in C al ifornia and New Jersey, Blackford's findings are detailed in Out of this World: Why Literature Matters to Girls (2004). These findings are particularly significant for their failure to confirm conventional beliefs about the act of reading. As Blackford asser ted, The reading practices and materials of the girls in this project go against the grain of thirty years, or more, of teacher wisdom: the belief that readers are engaged by stories with characters and social worlds that they can relate to themselve s and their own experiences. (p.6) Referencing Carol Gilligan's assertion that female adolescents value relationships over separation in developing their sense of selfhood, Blackford found that the relationships
! ! 53 were not with the characters, but rather the form and theme of the text. Blackford explained Girls construct a literary text as both an aesthetic object and an alternative world, separate from life and their social worlds. By forging a relationship with the presumed spectator of the text, they ex perience a welcome diffusion of identity, bifurcating themselves into a "seeing and imagining" agent "in" the text and differentiating this omniscient, reading self from the self that exists in life. (p. 9) Blackford openly shared how early into the interv iew process she discovered the significant flaw in her research found in the research questions themselves. According to Blackford, she constructed questions that reflected her presumptions about what kinds of literature the girls found meaningful and t he way that literature shaped the girls' exploration of selfhood (2004). Rather than forming relationships with the characters as they would friends in their real world, the girls Blackford studied gravitated to books that allowed them to leave their own world and live lives and realities far different from their own. Blackford's work resonated in the pilot study I conducted prior to this present research. Like Blackford, I began with a priori assumptions that simplistically reduced the complex experien ce of girls and reading to one of mirrors and transmission. In this view, the reader selected a text that mirrored elements of her own life, witnessed how the empowered female protagonist in the text triumphed over adversity, and as a result became filled with a similar sense of agency. Ashley, one of the participants in the pilot study, told a different story. In a semi structured interview, I asked Ashley, "What kinds of books do you like to read and why?" Making a novice researcher's error, I assumed
! ! 54 Ashley's response would mirror my own reading preference: realistic fiction. However, her response was fantasy because "It's fun to get away from what's going on with school and my mom I get away from all that when I read fantasy." When probed furt her about realistic fiction featuring central characters who were girls like her, dealing with many of those same issues of school, parents, etc., Ashley's blunt and honest response was, "That's boring. Why do I want to read about somebody just like me?" Her demeanor indicated this was a rhetorical question and helped me realize how much I needed to learn about the mindset of an effective qualitative researcher. Later, reading the work of Brown and Gilligan (1992) interviewing adolescent females in which they, too, made similar errors in assumptions, I felt somewhat reassured. As Brown and Gilligan state d, O ur wish to do good psychological resear ch led us into a ssumptions about c ontrol a nd objectivity and concerns about v alidity and repl icability which left us with a s ense of discomfort a nd uneasealthough our way of working was centered on v oice a nd listening and thus was akin to clinical a nd literary methods, our attempt t o bring thi s work into line with standard p ract ices of psychological researc h broke connection in a myriad subtle and not s o subtle ways. (pp. 9 11) While Brown and Gilligan's errors in assumptions pertain to research desi gn, their words resonate as I think back on my experience interviewing Ashley. I enter ed the present study cognizant of the need to deeply and consistently listen to the girls participating in the book club allowing their voices to inform and guide me. Reading as "doing." Margaret Finders' ( 1997) work with five adolescent females in a one year ethnographic study as the girls moved from sixth to seventh grade, focused both
! ! 55 on reading and writing, but informed the present study with its focus on the soci ocultural nature of literacy and gender construction. Like Bl ackford, Finders referenced Gilligan's theory of adolescent identity development as being relationship oriented and used that lens to explore acts of literacy in the girls' lives, both in and ou t of school. And like Blackford, Finders specifically examined the interpretive experiences of the girls and the books they read. Studying the girls both within an educational setting and at home allowed Finders to further explore the ways school literac y practices supported, or failed to support, those in which the girls engaged outside of school. Finders' findings support other studies (Blackford, 2004; Radway, 1997; Cherland, 1994) underscoring that for adolescent females, reading is far from a p assiv e pursuit. Finders asserted Girls use literacy to control, moderate, and measure their growth into a dulthood. I would argue that a new independence is afforded to adolescent females through literacyIn other words, literacies served as a visible rite of passage, as a cultural practice to mark oneself as in control, as powerful. (p. 19) While the importance of relationships was a finding in Finders' work, the present study employed an intentional, focused view of those relationships in a relationship base d literacy activity: a book club Finders work, too, examined sixth and seventh grade females. The present study focused on eighth grade females. Significant differences exist between females entering adolescence (sixth and seventh grade) and those in the middle of this dynamic period of human development. Adolescent Females and Book C lubs Cherland and Edelsky (1994), Blackford (2004), and Finders' (1997) encompassing views of adolescent female's literacy practices provided a broad
! ! 56 foundation upon whic h to examine the more specific, structured activity of girls' book club participation. Before returning again to a wide view by reviewing the research concerning mixed ge nder small group discussions I will first present key studies exploring all girl boo k clubs. Over five months, Carico (2001) met with four adolescent females to discuss two texts featuring strong female protagonists. Six months following the book discussion segment of the study, Carico continued to meet with the girls this time in the form of four months of reflective sessions Study findings indicated discussion preferences differed according t o the individual girl, and those participants who were adept at employing what Carico termed "the language of eloquence" the discursive practi ces most commonly found in English classroom discussions, were in a more privileged position during the book discussion sessions. The after school setting of the study highlighted this privileged positioning, l eading Carico to recommend classroom teachers become cognizant of the power structures present in discursive activities. Also selecting texts with strong female characters, Smith (1997) studied six sixth grade girls participating in 17 book club sessions. Smith's study is especially noteworthy as it focused on the ways the girls used the texts to reflect on their own identities as adolescent females Smith (2001) stated Their talk laid bare the enticing sense of discovering new possibilities and qualities about themselves. These combined purposes o f agency and desire illustrated the fluid and often contradictory identities these early adolescent girls were constructing and informed their response to their reading. (p. 13)
! ! 57 In an after school group called The Girls' Book Club, Galda and Beach (2001) s tudied 15 seventh grade females who met to discuss Karen Cushman's (1994) novel, Catherine, Called Birdy as part of a classroom inquiry project. Galda and Beach's study offers a critical perspective concerning the evolution of reader response theory si nc e the 1970s. Advocating that classroom teachers must encourage their students to stretch beyond making simple inferences about characters to viewing these characters within sociocultural context, Galda and Beach found providing the students with a structu r e that necessitated their framing responses in terms of issues such as gende r roles and religious practices enabled the students to "explore larger social and political forces shaping characters' lives" (p. 71). Galda and Beach maintained, Through experi ences such as this with literature in schools, students have the opportunity to access their full potential as readers who can create and transform worldsResearchers today who study response from a sociocultural frame take for granted the complexities of the reader text transaction that is embedded in multiple worl ds. (p. 71) Book Clubs as a Pedagogical P ractice With roots in adult social gatherings, literature discussion groups now occupy a prominent position within the classroom setting. While teache rs may refer to these groups by various terms, two in particular stand out: Literature Circles and Book Clubs. A point of clarification should be made concerning terminology. Literature Circles in capital letters, refers to a small group literature disc u ssion structure as conceived by Daniels (2002). B ook Club is another small group discussion structure and conceived of by Raphael and McMahon (1994). The ter m book club (lower case) was used throughout
! ! 58 this study as a generic term for a small group of i ndividuals gathering together to read and discuss a shared text. Harvey Daniels, author of Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs & Reading Groups (2002 ) describes literature circles as "small, peer led discussion groups whose members have c hosen to read the same story, poem, article, or book" (p.2). Daniels' work is popular among teachers because it features "role sheets" to define specific tasks each student member of the discussion group will perform and share with the group. Roles such as "Discussion Director," "Word Wizard," and "Artful Artist" are designed for both clarification and accountability as teachers collect the roles to document work accomplished. Daniels emphasizes that these role sheets should be used by teachers to scaffo ld student learning, and that teachers should nudge student discussions to extend beyond what students have written on the role sheets. In emphasizing the value of literature circles as a pedagogical practice, Daniels points to research indicating their effectiveness in raising student scores on standardized reading tests, as well as increasing student engagement and enjoyment of literature Specifically, Daniels found that sixth and eighth grade students from inner city Chicago schools where teachers h ad been trained in conducting Literature Circles achieved 27% higher on standardized literacy tests than the citywide average (2002) While McMahon and Raphael's conception of in school literature response groups shares many of the same features as Danie ls' Literature C ircles, there are also significant differences between the two. Book Club, the term McMahon and Raphael use, includes four major components, all of which students engage in during each instructional class period: Community Share, Reading, Writi ng/Representing, and Book
! ! 59 Club D iscussion (1994). During Community Share, the teacher engages in direct instruction to the whole group. Reading usually involves students reading silently, but large and small group oral reading often takes place at this time as well. Reflection on the text read occurs during the Writing/Representing stage, and students either engage in written response or an artistic representation of what they read. These steps prepare students to engage in the heart of the progra m: Book Club. At this time, students form small groups and discuss the text, using their work during Writing/Representing and teacher/student generated questions. Emphasizing the sociocultural perspective of knowledge as socially constructed, McMahon and Raphael stated their Book Club is built on the foundation that "language use is fundamental to thinking, that what is learned by any individual begins in the social interactions in which he or she engages" (p. 160). Re search on the effectiveness of bo ok discussion groups has produced mixed results. In a quantitative study measuring students' reading achievement gains on a standardized test, Raphael and McMahon (1994) found no difference between students in a Book Club centered classroom and those in a traditional classroom. However, Book Club students did exhibit greater long term recall of the reading material than their non Book Club counterparts. While research supporting the effectiveness of book discussion groups as measured by standardized te st scores is scarce, numerous studies have viewed academic success as affected by factors such as engagement and motivation. Research indicates that by offering adolescent readers opportunities for peer interactions ( Raphael et al, 1992; Raphael, Kehus & Damphousse, 2001), relationship building activities with
! ! 60 teachers (Chandler, 1997), increased autonomy through choice (B urns, 198 ), and physical movement (Raphael, Kehus & Damphousse, 2001), book discussion groups meet the unique developmental needs of ado lescents. While the foundational notion of a small group of readers gathering together to read and discuss a shared text is present in both the Daniels and Raphael/McMahon models, they bear little else in common with the out of school, adult book clubs d escribed by Long. Nowhere in Long's (1993) work does she describe book clubs where readers prepare and read from role sheets or engage in individual writing/representing activities prior to a leader directed group discussion. And while scaffolding is a k ey feature in effective instruction, its use is predicated on the assumption that there is a novice expert learning situation. This begs these questions: Are our young readers bereft of the ability to engage in meaningful discourse? When does scaffoldin g become a disabling crutch smothering individual self expression? Chapter S ummary In this chapter I reviewed the literature in four areas pertinent to the present study: sociocultural theory, reader response theory, adolescent girls' identity explora tion, and book clubs. Examining the literature in these areas contextualizes the present study, and underscores the significance of the study in contributing to the existing body of theory and research. Understanding the nature of sociocultural theory and the theorists whose work has made seminal contributions to the fi eld (Vygotsky, 1978; Dewey, 1956 ; Rogoff 1988, 1995, 2003; John Steiner & Mann, 19 97; Heath, 1983; Au, 1998), lays a foundation for assumptions central to the present study. Beginnin g with Vygotsky's
! ! 61 assertion that knowledge is socially constructed (Vygotsky, 1978), sociocultural theory is a continuously evolving perspective. Au's (1998) work, for example, emphasizing the role of students' backgrounds as sources for creating (and clo sing) the literacy achievement gap holds significant potential for addressing a growing problem in contemporary classrooms. Lewis, Encisco and Moje (2007) are harbingers of a postmodern view of sociocultural theory in calling for a more expansive definitio n one inclusive of issues of power, identity, and agency renamed "critical sociocultural theory." The review of literature, therefore, provided ample evidence th at sociocultural theory is as relevant today as when first articulated. In terms of the present study, sociocultural theor y was pertinent in addressing the first exploratory question: "What elements constitute selected adolescent girls' perspectives on identity?" as the study focused on their perspectives while participating in an after scho ol book club. Sociocultural theory info rmed this question by further asking: If learning occurs contextually within the social and cultural realms then what kinds of learning about oneself occur during reading and discussing literature? Furth er, soc iocultural theory informed the definition of identity used in the present stud y in which identities (plural) we re seen as both socially situated and socially constructed. In this chapter, I also explored the area of reader response theory, which provided t he theoretical framework foundation for the present study. Rosenblatt's (1978) view emphasizing the sociocultural perspecti ve of reading was employed: The current climate favors another of my emphasesthat there is no such thing as a generic reader, that each reading involves a particular person at a particular time and
! ! 62 place, underlies the importance of such factors in the transaction as gender, ethnic and socioeconomic background, and cultural environment. (p. viii) One aspect highlighted in this sectio n of the literature review was the mistaken notion of the existence of a single reader response theory. Various perspectives and theorists in this field were presented, showing that while reader response is regarded to be a view in which the emphasis on t he reading process is on the reader rather than the text, there are degrees to which this is embraced. Understanding the range of reader response theories, and clarifying the perspective pertinent to the present study further situated the research into th e reader experiences of adolescent females. The t erm "adolescent female identity contains three words deceivingly simple, but complex in close examination. I first included these words in the introductory chapter under definition of terms, and then need ed to investigate the terms both singularly and in various combinations with one anoth er. The result of this search i s a review organized with a theoretical foundational view of central theorists in the field of identity development/exploration/formation each word reflecting a distinct approach to the top ic. Reflecting the feminist methodology and perspective fo undational to the study, I adopt ed Gilligan's relationship based view of female identity eschewing the male centered orientations of Erickson and others whose theories were presented in the review of literature. Including these theories and theorists in the review of literature was important as their work is cited as the perspective on identity in studies involving adolescent females, identity, and book clubs. While Gilligan's relationship based view of female identity is referenced in these studies, in each case the researcher turns to Erickson or another male oriented view in the data analysis phase.
! ! 63 I explored first the historical backgro und of and continued with research pertaining to women and book clubs. I highlighted seminal work in the field of female adolescents and literacy activities in order to situate the present study. Blackford's (2004) findings particularly inform ed my work as I explore d female readers' engag ement with text and what occurred as a result of that engagement. Blackford's methodology differed from my own, though, in that her study was interview based. In my work, a community of female adolescent readers form ed the foundation of exploring the topic of girls and reading, and therefore discussion transcripts, journals, field no tes, as well as interviews comprise d data collected a nd analyzed. Relationships were therefore central to the study and the girls' literacy practices studie d.
! ! 64 Chapter Three Method In this chapter I outline and discuss the research design of my study. I begin by restating the purpose of the study and the research questions guiding the design of the stud y. Next, I discuss the theoretical framework informing the methodology employed in the study. I conclude the chapter with a description of the design of the study and the data analysis methods that will be used. Adolescent Females Perceptions of Identi ty in an after School Book Club i s a qualitative study that employ ed case study methods to provide an in depth description and analysis of a community of readers. Purpose of the Study and Exploratory Q uestions The purpose of this study wa s to d escribe a nd explain selected adolescent girls' perceptions of identity through an after school book club. The following exploratory questions guided my study: 1. What elements constitute selecte d adolescent girls' perceptions of identity through an after school b ook club? 2. What elements influence their self identity expression ? I employ ed qualitative data collection and analysis techniques to explore these questions, following the tenets of naturalistic inquiry which Patton (2002) defines as "A discovery orient ed approach that minimizes investigator manipulation of the study setting and places no prior constraints on what the outcomes of the research will be" (p. 39).
! ! 65 Theoretical Research F ramework According to Creswell (2007), engaging in qualitative researc h involves making certain philosophical assumptions in terms of ontology, epistemology, axiology, rhetoric, and m ethodology. The two exploratory questions guide d the selection of qualitative research methods in this present study. One of the underlying a ssumptions in asking these questions concerns the nature of reality that it is both subjective and multiple, seen by study participants. Another assumption is that personal values and bias are inherent in all research. Embracing these assumptions and u nderstanding that in order to explore answers to the research questions I need ed to engage closely with the participants, I turn ed to qualitative research for this study. Reader response theory provided the framework upon which this study is built, guidan ce in data collection, and a lens to view and analyze data. Design of the S tudy Case Study Design Guided by the nature of my exploratory questions and the need for extensive, in depth descriptions of the social phenomenon studied ( Yin, 2009; Stake, 2005), I selected case study design as appropriate methodology to explore adolescent females in a book club. Merriam (2009) lists three special attributes of case studies: particularistic, descriptive, and heuristic. The present study focused on describing and explaining the experiences of five adolescent females participating in a book club, and therefore satisfies the first requirement. Thick description is a key feature of the following two chapters in which I first present the data collected and follow wit h an analysis of the data. Within both sections I have further reflected Merriam's (2009) perspective on case studies as
! ! 66 qualitative research that "include as many variables as possible and portray their interaction, often over a period of time" (p. 43). Finally, the present study satisfies Merriam's third criteria for case studies in its focus on capturing "complex action, perception, and interpretation" (p. 44). Additionally, in keeping with the feminist research methodology that foundational to the pre sent study, I am informed by Reinharz's (1992) assertion of a need for case studies focusing on women's experiences. In a chapter focusing on feminist case study research, Reinharz further emphasizes this need by referring to these words by Bernice Carroll in her work Liberating Women's History: Theoretical and Critical Essays : Theory must remain hypothetical, at worst unreal and barren [unless we have detailed] case studies and surveys dealing with the experience of selected groups of women in diverse cul tures and time periods. (p. xii) One goal of the present study was to highlight the experience s of five adolescent females in an after school book club and breathe reality and rich description into reader response theory. Fem inist methodology was therefore foundational to all aspects of the study. Lather (1991) defines feminist research stating, V ery simply, to do feminist research is to put the so cial construction of gender at t he center of one's inquiry. The overt ideologica l goal of feminist research in t he human sciences is to correct both the invisibility and distortion of female e xperience in ways relevant to ending women 's unequally social posit ion. ( Lather, 1991, p.71; quoted in Kvale, 1996, p. 73). In addition to the nature of the research questions and need for in depth description of a real life phenomenon, a feature of the present study that makes case study the preferred
! ! 67 methodology wa s th e exte nsive variety of evidence collected: interviews, field notes, researcher and participant journals, and discussion transcripts (Yin, 2009). Participants and Site As an after school book discussion group, the meetings forming the core of this study did not take place within a classroom during school hours. Instead, weekly book discussion meetings occurred at a public park adjacent to a local middle school. The participants in the study were drawn from the student body at this particular middle schoo l, however. I myself was previously employed as a teacher at this site. Therefore, with the researcher and participants intricately tied to the site, a detailed description of the school is necessary to provide a foundational background for the study. A t the time of the present study, t h e school year was the inaugural year for Gulfside Fundamental Middle School While the school building itself has been in existence for 50 years, during the previous year the district school board responded to a budgetar y shortfall by deciding to merge Eastside Fundamental Middle School with Gulf Middle School. The adjoining elementary school, Gulf Elementary School also became part of the merger by reorganizing as a fundamental school. As proclaimed on the middle schoo l web site, three schools (Eastside Fundamental Middle School, Gulf Middle School, and Gulf Elementary School) became one "great K 8 school." Gulfside Fundamental Middle School's total population a s of the time of the present study wa s 954 students. Accor ding to district records, the demogra phic composition of the school wa s as follows: 898 non Hispanic or African American students, 33 Hispanic students, and 23 African American students. Of the total middle
! ! 68 sch ool population, 22% qualified for the fre e o r reduced lunch program, 6% we re stude nts with disabilities, and 16% we re gifted. Gulfside Fundamental Middle School is part of a large, urban school district in a state whose population has historically experienced tremendous growth until recently. Wh ile Florida was once seen as a land of almost limitless opportunity, the national economic downturn caused that shining image to tarnish. Not only are Americans not pouring into Florida as they once were, they are, in fact, leaving many areas of the state Residents of Gulf County, located on the west coast of the state along the Gulf of Mexico, have seen property taxes and insurance rates soar, while wages and the availability of jobs have plummeted. Families have been hit particularly hard, and have ch osen either to move to other, less costly parts of the state, or to leave the state entirely. The result has been a decrease in student enrollment in the Gulf County School District. The decrease in student enrollment coupled with the loss of revenue con tributed to the closing of eight middle and elementary scho ols in the year prior to the present study Eastside Fundamental Middle School, a small (650 students on average) school built in 1927, was one of those schools. A brief description of fundament al schools, their philosophical and curricular foundations, will provide important contextual information in framing the study researcher (a former teacher at the school) and the participants (students attending the school). Public schools that emphasize active parental involvement and strict adherence to high behavioral standards for students, fundamental schools have been part of the Gulf County School District since 1976.
! ! 69 The student population is drawn via a districtwide lottery system available to all families who agree to terms of active involvement including attending a required number of Parent Teacher Association (P.T.A. ) meetings, signing homework, attending all parent teacher conferences, and providing transportation to and from school. This last requirement is obviously a particular challenge for many families in the district to meet. It is also a significant reason that closing one fundamental program in a small school and merging it with a much larger K 8 school presented an ideal situati on for the local scho ol district. The absence of buses eliminated a significant expense for the district, while offering a new fundamental school for elementary and middle school parents allowed the district to answer parent requests. The closure merger scenario was not without significant challenges. Faculty at all three schools were required to interview for positions at the new school. Students already attending the effected schools were given first preference in attending the new school, provided th ey and their parents agreed to abide by the fundamental school requirements. The result was the creation of a school in which existing faculty saw colleagues required to find placement elsewhere, faculty at the closed school hired to teach at the new scho ol, but experiencing the loss of their own school and the relocation of some long standing colleagues to other schools, and finally, there were the students. The school population resulting from the merger wa s a mixture of students new to the fundamental school program, but having attended the school for many years ; students from the closed school familiar with the fundamental program but now attending a new school facility, and students from other mid dle schools
! ! 70 Establishing a common s chool culture and community proved to be a slow, difficult process for students used to strong ties to their school. Three identities: Schoolwide fa culty, and student continue d to be in the midst of a rebuilding process during the time of the study. My intention in be ginning the participant recruitment process was to accept any eighth grade female at the school who expressed a desire to be part of the book club and was willing to fulfill the requirements of participation: reading books according to the agreed upon sche dule, writing at home in reader response journals, attending weekly one hour meetings, fully participating in the weekly discussions. I had no other criteria. Therefore, many questions as to each participant's school background would remain unanswered unt il I began the initial interviews. Wou l d they be former Eastside students (many of whom share a personal and educational history extending back to early elementary school years)? Would they be former Gulfside Middle School students (possibly with a simil a r shared history)? Wou l d they be students without any previous connection to the school culture either fundamental or physical location? These questions remain ed to be answered. During the design phase of the study, I anticipated approximately ten gi rls would volunteer to be part of the book club. From these ten or so girls, I would then form two, five member discussion groups. I would adjust the number of groups according to how many girls asked to participate. I anticipated needing to create more groups. I would gather data on all of the groups, finally select ing three girls from one group as the focus of case studies representative of the participants in the book club as a whole In the end, I had exactly five girls who volunteered to be part o f the book club. As a researcher, I had
! ! 71 planned on some level of attrition and so I was initially concerned with this limited number of girls. The attrition did not occur Five eighth grade adolescent females attending Gulfside Middle School began the book club and with the exception two girls who missed one meeting a piece, during the eight one hour book club meetings, all five girls were in attendance each week. The recruitment process occurred in this manner. One month prior to the start of the stu dy, I arrange d to talk to students in eighth grade language arts classes at the selected middle school site. I discuss ed the study, answer ed any initial questions about the st udy and the book club, and left flyers (Appendix A) describing the study and the book club with the teachers. The flyer include d instructions for students interested in participating to accompany their parents to an informational meeting at the school in two weeks. At this meeting, I once again describe d the study, answer ed question s from parents and students, and distribute d informed consent forms (Appendix B) for parents and students to complete and return to their language arts teacher with in the week. As stated previously, I intended that all girls who applied to be part of the study would be accepted, formed into groups of five, with one group the focus of single case study of the book club, and three of the participants in the group as the focus of individual case studies. This number would construct a small enough discussion group conducive to providing all girls with the opportunity to speak and share, while at the same time large enough to retain the important feature of multiple voices in the event a participant dropped out of the group. To ensure the participants remain ed in the study for the full eight weeks and attend ed each of the weekly meetings, the flyer distributed in the language arts class and
! ! 72 at the parent/student meeting detail ed the benefits and requirements of the book club/study participation: Benefits: Bo oks, snacks, the opportunity to talk about participant selected books with peers. Requirements: Attendance at each of eight weekly, one hour meeting; r ead two participant selected books according to a group determined schedule; write weekly in personal re sponse journals prior to and following book club meetings; participate actively in whole group book discussions; agree to an individual interview at the beginning and end of the study. Book Selection A utonomy and empowerment of the female participants is c ritical to a study embracing feminist methodology. T he ultim ate selection of the titles therefore needed to be up to the girls themselves. The need for autonomy and empowerment via book choice, however, had to be balanced with the need to address the two exploratory questions driving the study and remain faithful to the purpose of the study. I determined the best way to achieve this complex balance would be to present the girls with a list from which they could engage in collaborative, democratic negotiat ions to arrive at two group agreed upon titles. I initially intended to assemble the list myself and began searching for young adult literature (specifically novels) featuring strong female protagonists. Precisely what constitutes young adult literature ( also referred to as adolescent literature) is as problematic to define as the term young adult itself. Broadest age ranges for young adult include readers as young as ten and as old as twenty five (Cart, 2008). The parti cipants involved in this study we re all 8 th grade females, ages 13 14. I therefore
! ! 73 began to assemble a book list by searching for young adult novels whose protagonists were female, roughly the same age or slightly older, and whose subject matter and plot elements emphasized adoles cent fema le identity expression With this criterion in mind, I consulted various booklists for award winning titles to select books the girls would find engaging. T he Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a subgroup of the American Library Associati on, awards a number of honors for young adult titles including the Printz Award, the Alex Award, the Margaret A. Edwards Award, and the William C. Morris Award. I also explored YALSA booklists including those comp iled by teen readers themselves. T he Asse mbly on Literature for Adolescents of the National C ouncil of Teachers of English (ALAN) wa s another organization whose resources I spent copious amounts of time exploring in my search. Finally, I drew up on my professional knowledge as a language arts teac her knowledge gained through reading the journals of the above organizations, being a voracious reader of young adult literature myself, and listening to the discerning opinions of my students. Compiling the booklist was a time consuming part of the st udy design, but a critical one key to my being able to successfully address my exploratory questions and fulfilling the study's purpose. I kne w too, from my experience as a classroom teacher, that lack of engagement with text would result in lackluster discussions and written response s. As a researcher, I understoo d the potential impact that could have on the strength of my study. In the course of my search, I discovered a list of award winning books ideally suited to my study. The Amelia Bloomer Pr oject of the Feminist Task Force of the
! ! 74 Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association became the central focus of my book search. Ultimately, all of the titles on the list I presented to the five adolescent females participating in the study were drawn from recent (past five years) annual lists published by the Amelia Bloomer Project (Appendix C). Members of the task force use four criteria in selecting books to include on these annual lists: 1. Significant feminist content 2. Excel lence in writing 3. Appealing format 4. Age appropriateness for young readers I felt confident in relying upon individuals who were part of an American Library Association task force in determining books meeting the last three criteria, and I knew I would cross check the list with the above resources I used to initiate the search. I became interested, therefore, in the first criterion listed: significant feminist content. I wondered, what would be their definition of "feminist"? Acknowledging that while there may be a current popular trend of young adult literature with strong female protagonists, not all of the works would necessarily be considered feminist. The Amelia Bloomer Project clarifies this issue and provided a definition of feminist books that coin cides with the specific view of strong female protagonist employed in this study: Feminist books for young readers must move beyond merely "spunky" and "feisty" young women, beyond characters and people who fight to protect themselves without furthering rights for other women. Feminist books show women overcoming the obstacles of intersecting forces of race, gender, and class,
! ! 75 actively shaping their destinies. They break bonds forced by society as they defy stereotypical expectations and show resilience in the face of societal strictures. (p. 1) Emphasizing that even if a text features a female protagonist who is "plucky, perseverant, courageous, feisty, intelligent, spirited, resourceful, capable, and independent," it still may not be considered feminis t. The Amelia Bloomer Project Task Force therefore employs specific questions to determine if the work is indeed feminist (Appendix D). A few of these questions include: 1. Does the book show an awareness of gender based inequalities with action to change th ese inequalities? 2. Do girls and women take on nontraditional roles? If so, does the book point out that these roles are in opposition to society's expectations, that the person is breaking new ground? 3. Do females blaze new trails for themselves and those wh o follow them? (Again, does the book point that out?) 4. Do females use power for purposeful action, empowering others? 5. Does the book reflect female opportunities (or the lack of them), inequalities, and non traditional roles in the era in which the book is set? (p. 2) In the following chapter, I share data collected during the final book discussion meeting when I ask the girls to discuss, reflect, answer a few of these questions in relation to the two books they had selected and read. Their responses and th e data collected throughout the study confirmed the value of the time invested in creating the book list I presented to the participants (Appendix E).
! ! 76 Prior to the first meeting, the girls and I gathered so they could look at the lists and determine both which books they would read and a weekly schedule for reading them. At the beginning of the meeting, I distributed copies of the list drawn from the past five years of the Amelia Bloomer Project award winners, cross checked with my own knowledge of the bo oks, and reviews from various organizations mentioned previously. I also selected texts deemed appropriate by the Amelia Bloomer Project and others for the particular age group of the participants. After a great deal of discussion, the participants decid ed on two texts: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart and Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The girls indicated the intriguing title was significant in selecting the first novel. While Uprising is a historical fiction and the girls were initially united in their stance against selecting a novel in this genre, the popularity of the author and positive attitudes toward her other works persuaded them to select this as their second novel. A brief description of the two novels selected will provide an important context in understanding data that resulted from discussions of the texts. The Amelia Bloomer Project includes this one sentence summary of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks: "When Frankie learns that sh e cannot join the all male secret society at her exclusive prep school, she takes matters into her own hands" (Amelia Bloomer Project, 2009) Frankie Landau Banks is 16 years old, the younger sister of Zada a confident, popular college freshman. Franki e begins the story as the self and family described "bunny rabbit," and is determined to break free and create a new persona. Her plan to
! ! 77 achieve this? Capture for herself the empowerment owned by members of the all male secret society and transform from bunny rabbit to criminal mastermind. In Uprising the girls selected a far different text. The Amelia Bloomer Project provided this summary of Uprising : "Stories of three girls of different ethnic, social, and educational backgrounds demonstrate the so lidarity during the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory strike and fire" (Amelia Bloomer Project, 2009). In alternating chapters, the book focuses on the experiences of three fictional characters representing various perspectives and experiences in New York City circa 1911. Jane, born into a life of privilege seems to be naturally prepared for a life of marriage, children, and an endless series of social events. Yet Jane feels somewhat unsettled about this predetermined future life she faces and wonders if there could be more. Bella beautiful, nave, and trusting has recently arrived to American from her small village in Italy. Bella is grateful when she finds work at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. At the factory, Bella meets Yetta empowered, activist minded Yetta who tries to balance working at the factory with her passionate involvement with the union and suffragette movements. These two participant selected young adult novels formed the foundation for the weekly book discussions. The Role of the Re searcher In qualitative inquiry the researcher is the instrument, and therefore self disclosure about the role and background of the researcher is essential (Patton, 2002; Creswell, 2007). I selected Gulfside Fundamental Middle School as the research sit e due to my intimate knowledge of and time spent in the field a critical aspect of qualitative
! ! 78 research (Patton, 2002; Creswell, 2007 ; Merriam, 2009 ). Guided by Jorgensen's (1989) cr iteria (described below) I also determine d that participant observation wa s appropriate as both my role as the researcher and a data collection technique. A researcher who lacks the understandings I brought to the study understanding gained from my seven years as a teacher at the site would be disadvantaged in the contex tual knowledge. Wi th this knowledge, however, I risk ed filtering data through preconceived ideas and not allowing the data to speak for itself. Ely et al. (1991) express these cautionary words concerning the danger of such a "presumption of understanding ": Familiarity with the subject at hand the subculture, the jargon, and the unwritten codes of behavior may enable a researcher to delve deeply into the research without having to do all of the preliminary work However, there are certain issues that arise from familiarity with the subject of which the researcher must be aware. An important, subtle issue concerns a researcher's presumption of understanding. (p. 124) According to Jorgensen (1989), participant observation is appropriate when the followi ng conditions are present: the research problem is concerned with human meanings and interactions viewed from the insiders' perspective; the phenomenon of investigation is observable within an everyday life situation or setting; the researcher is able to g ain access to an appropriate setting; the phenomenon is sufficiently limited in size and location to be studied as a case;
! ! 79 study questions are appropriate for case study; and the research problem can be addressed by qualitative data gathered by direct obse rvation and other means pertinent to the field setting. (p. 13) While I outline d the requirements of participation in the weekly book club meetings in broad strokes, the girls had to be central to the decision making process whenever possible. The book cl ub study's design wa s to provide a space within which the girls' voices could be heard. My intentions as a researcher we re to listen to, learn from, and be guided by these voices. Therefore, if and whe n called on by the girls, I move d from observer to pa rticipant As a classroom teacher, I view critical literacy as a central component of literature instruction. Even as my students discuss and explore literary texts in small groups or literature circles (Daniels, 2002), I am not a passive observer, but m ove from group to group listening and asking probing questions that afford them the opportunity to explore the text fo r critical issues ( Cherland, 1994). In considering methods for fostering rich discussio ns among the participants, I dre w on my own experie nces not only as a classroom teacher, but also my work as a freelance writer for the Newspaper in Education section of a local newspaper. For four years I facilitated monthly book club discussions with two groups: one in which the participants ranged i n age from eight to ten, the other which involved middle school age participants (ages 12 to 14). Employing a process similar to the design of this study, I selected groups of five participants who ag reed to read one book per month and then met at a local park to engage in one hour discussions of the book. Although not a research study, m y role in that context mirrored that of participant observer, and using a voice activated digital recorder, I recorded the group discussions, later transcribing and editi ng
! ! 80 them to fit my allotted space in the newspaper. These experiences provide d significant guidance for me in designing this present study. During the first few meetings with the newspaper book groups, I diligently formulated questions for the group to dis cuss, only to have the meeting begin with the first question and then the discussion happily leaving my hands and l anding squarely where it should with the young readers. Later, my opening question was always just this: What did you think (about the bo ok)? In designing the study, therefore, I drew from these experiences and rather than preparing a list of discussing questions for the group members. My intention was therefore to begin with "What did you think about the book?" and mark some specific pass ages to help initiate collaborative discussions if the question was not effective in doing so. Focusing on empowering the female participants in the study, I hoped a reading community would quickly develop so that organic, partic ipant initiated discussion s would occur each week. The texts carefully selected for the list of possible novels to read should have provided foundations for these rich discussions. My faith in the adolescent readers proved to be well founded. Each week, one of the participants initiated the discussion almost before we all assembled at the picnic tables. I still prepared selections I felt would offer the girls opportunities to engage in rich discussions concerning identity, but only shared the selections at a few meetings. While I allowed myself to occupy the role of participant observer, in actual practice, my role was primarily one of observer. It should be noted, however, that as a group the girls, too, provided me with the invitation to play a participant role selecting fo r me a pseudonym to further help make this role possible. This selection of a pseudonym occurred during the first few moments of the initial book club meeting.
! ! 81 Bianca: Wait, Mrs. Atkins, you don't want us to think of you as a teacher so can we just call you by your first name? Atkins: You want to call me Holly? All: Yeah! Atkins: Okay, that's fine you can call me Holly. Lacey: We should call her H Dawg! Bianca: Well, it would be appropriate because in the book, she's in the Beagle Club so H Dawg (discussion transcripts, August 2010). Throughout the remaining eight weeks of book discussion meetings and final interviews, the girls continued to refer to me as "H Dawg." In presenting data from book discussions and final interviews, therefore, I hav e identified myself using the name the girls selected for me. A final note should be made concerning my presence and position in the book club meetings and creation of the field notes. My intention was to place the voice activated recorder in the center of the meeting table, and complete double entry field notes while the girls engaged in the discussion. This would allow me to provide a context for the discussion transcripts. I would be able to record observations concerning aspects of the discussion no t found on the audio recordings observations concerning the physical positioning of the girls, their facial expressions and body language, etc. However, I discovered at the first meeting how intrusive the girls would regard this activity. The moment I reached for my pen and notepad, all eyes became focused on me and when/what I wrote. I therefore quickly put them away and the girls once again focused on one another and discussing the books.
! ! 82 Procedure and Data Collection Data collection began in August 2010 with initial individual semi structured interviews of each girl in the book club. Interview protocols (Appendix F) served as foundational questions, but did not limit their scope. Weekly data collection ca me in the form of the discussion transcripts when the book club meetings began in August and ended at the close of the book cl ub eight weeks later in early October as well as the indivi dual girls' response journals. The journals were collected at the conclusion of each meeting, entries photocopied, and returned to the partic ipants the next day. Data also was collected via post study semi structured interviews (Appendix G) Tables 2 and 3 outline the study design in terms of data collection and analysis : Exploratory Question Data Source Time (Week of) Data Analysis 1. What elements constitute selected adolescent girls' perspectives on identity? Initial semi structured interviews with case study participants Mid August 2010 Interview analysis (Kvale, 1996 2009 ) Discussion transcripts; field notes 8 weeks; Mid August Mid October 2010 Constant comparative analysis ( Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Merriam, 2009 ) Participant Journals 8 weeks; Mid August Mid October 2 010 Constant comparative analysis ( Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Merriam, 2009 ) Fina l semi structured interviews with case study participants Mid August 2010 Constant comparative analysis ( Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Merriam, 2009 ) Table 2: Exploratory Question 1 and Study Design
! ! 83 Exploratory Question Data Source Time (Week of) Dat a Analysis 2. What influences their self identity expression? Book club discussion transcripts; field notes 8 weeks: Mid August Mid October 2010 Constant comparative analysis ( Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Merriam, 2009 ) Participant Journals 8 weeks: Mi d August Mid October 2010 Constant comparative analysis ( Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Merriam, 2009 ) Table 3: Exploratory Question 2 and Study Design The tables reflect my intentional decisions in designing a study that would address each of the research q uestions by eliciting consistent data (Patton, 2002). Participant Reader Response Journals Multiple sources of da ta enrich any study, and so were an important foundation. One source of data was the participant reader respon se journals the girls wrote in a t home while completing the week's reading prior to the book clu b meeting. While the girls were asked to bring these journals to each meeting, sharing their responses with the group was on a voluntary basis. As I do in my own l anguage arts classes, I str ove to establish within this study a safe community in which all members fe l t positive about sharing through reading their writing and verba lizing their thoughts. I also know that even in the safest environments, individuals will often, for various reasons not want to share with th e group. These are not diaries but reader response journals. My experience as a cla ssroom teacher, however, informed me that adolescents especially h ave a need and desire to share deep emotions. With this understanding, I let th e girls know that while they wou l d
! ! 84 be sharin g their journals with me, they we re free to choose whether to verbally share with the whole group. Participant I nterviews A second form of data in this study was the transcripts of the individual semistructu re d interviews I conduct ed with each of the girls at the beginning and end of the study. During these interviews, I continue d to emphasize the importance of relationships foundational to this particular study and feminist research in general. Rubin and Rub in's (2005) perspective of qualitative interviews as "conversations in which a researcher gently guides a conversational partner in a n extended discussion" (p. 56) shape d this aspect of data collection. My purpose in conducting the initial interviews wit h each participant was to begin to form a comfortable relationship with each girl prior to the book club discussion meetings, to come to know the girls as individuals, and to provide the girls the opportunity to share what they perceived as their self iden tity in an environment without the presence of their peers. Beginning the interviews, I understood my presence as a researcher created a social environment within which each girl would situate statements about their identity. As a participant observer at the book club meetings, my presence also had the potential to influence the data. This is important in bracketing presentation of the data in Chapter Four. However, it should also be emphasized that the girls' actions during the book club meeting were co nsistent with the self identity statements made during the individual interviews. In preparing to conduct the interviews with each participant, Brown and Gilligan's (1992) experiences as researchers learning to listen to young girls serve d as
! ! 85 guidelin es As I sa t down to engage in interview conve rsations with each girl, I tried to keep their experiences firmly in mind: Constrained by our own design, we found ourselves losing voice and losing relationships in our own research projectHolding firmly to t he same questions for each girl, for example, prevented us from following the girls to the places they wished to go. (pp. 10 11) Therefore, while I had prepared initial and fina l interview protocols as general frameworks, I tried to be faithful to Kval e's (1996) definitio n of a semistructured interview. It (semistructrured interview) has a sequence of themes to be covered, as well as suggested questions. Yet at the same time there is an openness to changes of sequence and forms of questions in order to follow up the answers given and the stories told (p. 124) I acknowledge and embrace, therefore, the unique nature of each conversation/interview, just as the girls participating in the study are in their own way unique individuals. Credibility Believing in the strength of qualitative research to stand as a distinct method of conducting research, I concur with those writers who view appropriating positivist terminology in qualitative research as perpetuating a stance in which qualitative research must be d efended in a quantitative world ( Merriam, 2009; Creswell, 2007). Therefore terms such as "trustworthiness" or "authenticity" will not be used in evaluating the quality of this study. In keeping with the interpretive framework for analysis central to this study, I employ the criteria Rubin and Rubin (2005) assert define the trustworthiness
! ! 86 of data: interviewee selection, thoroughness and accuracy, believability, and transparency. I conducted initial and final interviews with all five participants, but sel ected three interviewees as the focus of the case studies on the basis of their varied perceptions. Kvale (1996, 2009) emphasizes quality over quantity and asserts that the study purpose informs the number of participants necessary. The present study's p urpose is to describe and explain selected adolescent females' perceptions of identity through an after school book club. Selection of five participants with a focus on three presenting varied perceptions is therefore in keeping with Rubin and Rubin as wel l as Kvale. T horoughness and accuracy was ensured by the use of interview protocols followed by clarifying and probing questions. Member checks and an outside peer reviewer further ensured accuracy of transcriptions and analysis. Participant selection methods and interview protocols established believability. Reflecting postmodern research that views data triangulation as inadequate to represent the complexity of our world, I have sought to crystallize rather than triangulate. Richardson and St. Pierre (2005) offer this description of crystallization: Crystals are prisms that reflect externalities and refract within themselves, creating different colors, patterns and arrays casting off in different directions. What we see depends on our angle of repose not triangulation but rather crystallization. (p. 963) The various prisms in this study were reflected through f ield notes, interviews, a researcher reflective jo urnal (Appendix H) participant response journals, and transcrip ts of group discussions Peer debriefing (Appendix I) and member checking (Ely et al.,
! ! 87 1991; Lincoln & Guba, 1985) were two additional strategies used in the present study and discussed in g reater detail below. The researcher reflective journal ( Janesick, 2004) I began during a previous pilot study and continue d to active ly use through all phases of the study enable d me to clarify and make transparent my researcher bias. Finally, subsequent chapters in the dissertation in w hich I report the findings include "rich, thick description (that) allows readers to make decisions regarding transferability because the writer describes in detail the participants or setting under study" (p. 209). In cas e study methodology, thick description is particularly important and is therefore a critical element in the present study. The found data poems (Furman, 2006; Furman & Langer, 2004, 2006; Poi ndexter, 1997) I have construct ed duri ng the data analysis phase provide additional and highly accessible forms of thick description for the reader. Peer debriefer. T o establish credibility and thereby help ensur e the quality of analysis I enlisted the aid of a peer debriefer (Janesick, 2004; Creswell, 2007; Given, 20 08). Also referred to as a peer reviewer, this individual act ed as a "critical detective or auditor" (Janesick, 2004). The presence of a peer debriefer is consistent with the feminist methodology employed in the study as this particular individual wa s a lso a female with whom I established both a personal and professional relationship with while working together at a university National Writing Project site. This trusting relationship provide d an avenue through which I was able to have my own voice heard as I endeavor ed to accurately represent the voices and perspectives of the adolescent females participating in my study. Given (2008), describes the value of a peer debriefer in this way: Peer debriefingis a method for establishing credibility. This is undertaken by the researcher discussing the study with a trusted and knowledgeable peer who
! ! 88 can give informed feedback to assist the research in exploring aspects of the study that have, until that point, remained hiddenpeer debriefing can motivate the re searcher to delve deeper into the data so as to understand more fully the participants' perspectivespeer debriefing can be conducted to enable the researcher to discuss political or ethical issues, to have a sounding board for confusing or uncomfortable i ssues, and to clear her or his mind. (pp. 199 200) Researcher reflective journal. Writing is an important part of my personal and professional life. I agree with the author Joan Didion who said, "I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm l ooking at, what I'm seeing, and what it means." Therefore, a researcher reflective j ournal (Janesick, 2004) was a critical component of the study and a third method for establishing credib ility. In this journal, I engage d in what Denzon (2001) refers to as "Interpretive Interactionism" in which I "interact ed with myself in writing about my work as a researcher in this study This reflective journal provide d space for me to explore aspects of the study including questions, concerns, issues, etc. In a ddi tion, the journal elicited thoughts and ideas about social justice and agency (Janesick, 2004). I began this journal during the pilot study a year prior to the present study, and continue d to write in it regularly throughout all aspects of the study, inclu ding data collection and analysis. Rather than a side note to the stud y, however, the journal was a part of the work and therefore also part of the dissertation. Embracing a postmodern stance toward the issue of bias, I made every attempt to make it visi ble to the reader (Scheurich, 1997). By maintaining this journal, I dre w on the conception of reflexivity, which Steier (1991) defines as a "turning back of one's experience upon oneself" and
! ! 89 "being conscious of ourselves as we see ourselves" (p.5). Based on the social constructivist approach to inquiry in which "worlds are constructed, or even autonomously invented, by scientific' inquirers who are simultaneously participants in thei r worlds" (Steier, 1991, p.1), r eflexivity acknowledges that a researche r can never adopt a neutral position; gender, race, ethnicity, age, and other characteristics influence the relationship between the researcher and the participants. As Fine and Sandstrom (1988) assert ed researcher neutrality is especially problematic wh en working with children: While status is always an issue the sensitive researcher examines, the muting of status lines is more common than deepening or reinforcing them. Yet, in participating with children, such a policy is not fully tenable, because the social roles of the participants have been influenced by age, cognitive development, physical maturity, and acquisition of social roles. (p.14) I therefore both acknowledge and embrace reflexivity as part of conducting qualitative research, understanding what Corbin and Straus (2008) describe as the "reciprocal influence" between researcher and participants as they "co construct the research (at least data collection) together" (p. 31). The researcher reflective journal's presence in the dissertation is m ost noticeable in the following chapter in introductory sections for each of the three participant case studies in which I share sections from the journal following the initial interview with the participant. Through the use of the researcher reflective j ournal excerpt, I have attempted to bracket my bias toward the participants by openly sharing my initial reactions with the reader.
! ! 90 Member c hecking Feminist research methodology stresses the importance of making often silenced voices of females heard. Essential to this study, then, was ens uring that as a researcher I accurately transcribed and analyzed my participants' voices. There fore, part of data crystallization for this study and a final avenue I use d to ensure credibility was to engage in member checking, a process in which participants verify data and analysis thereof (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). In this study, member checking was an ongoing process. Both formally and informally, I shared with the participants my initial thoughts following data tra nscription of the previous week's book discussions. I was constantly aware that by engaging in this process I ran the risk of compromising the trusted relationship I had built with the girls Therefore in keeping with the openness characterizing al l as pects of this study, I share d this concern with them both at the onset of the study and prior to the actual member checking activities I embraced my responsibility as a femin ist researcher to highlight these young females' voices as accurately as possibl e One of the participants, Sarah, shared a comment during one of the book discussion meetings indicating that the knowledge of my intention to do so led to a feeling of empowerment. Sarah: I think it's kind of funny that professors are going to be readin g this and they don't know who we are, or what we're like, but they might get a wholelike they might actually end up knowing who we are by listening to this. And I think that's really cool. Like they could just know who we are just by listening to our c onversations. (discussion transcripts, September 2010)
! ! 91 Qualitative Analysis Strategies Const ant comparative m ethod The constant comparative method ( Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Merriam, 2009 ) form ed the foundation for data analysis in th is study. The proce dure was identical for all forms of data. I began the process with open coding by examining the document (discussion transcripts, interview transcripts, reader response journal writings), looking for possible categories, followed by nami ng and coding the categories. In the next step I compare d the categories for similarities and dif ferences. Similarities then combined into new categories. I considered the category saturated when no new codes could be added. E ventually, some categories emerge d in signi ficance (Appendix J) Reading published research with a similar focus as this study provided me with a great deal of insight into own data collection and analysis. Hoping to learn from other beginning researches, I included dissertations in my reading. Knowing I would no doubt face my own challenges, I hope d that by reading and heeding the w ords of other novice researchers I could minimize some. I kne w, for example that the amount of data I would collect in this qualitative case study would be tremend ous. Eight weekly, one hour book discussions alone would create volumes of transcriptions. Add to that the weekly written response journals and the pre and post study interviews with each participant and the amount of data collected had the potential for being unwieldy during the coding/data analysis steps of the study. I ask ed myself during the study planning stages: What could I do in designing the study to address this issue? Attempting to answer this question, I felt certain I needed to find some t ype of pre existing method of coding that would enable me to have a tool to use as I analyzed
! ! 92 the data. Then I read the summary section of Elizabeth Frye's (2006) dissertation "The Features of After School Adolescent Girls' Book Clubs Contribute to the Id entity Explorations of Young Women Leaders" and read how she, too, searched for a coding system "out there." Finally, she came to the following conclusion which I heed ed as valuable advice: I now realize that as a qualitative researcher I must balance ca reful, deliberate planning with the openness to allow themes to emerge from this unique, particular set of data. As a qualitative researcher I understand that all aspects of a study are unique (hence the issue/non issue of generalizability). Data analysi s coding the data included is no exception" (p. 89). Found data p oems Following data t ranscription and coding, I create d final representations of the data in the form of found data poems (Furman, 2006; Furman & Langer, 2004, 2006). Also referred to as research poems, found data poems reflect the postm odern perspective that values the subjective, lived experiences of individuals and groups. Research data, therefore, must not only fully reflect those experiences, but also engage the audience encounter ing the research. Furman, Lietz, and Langer (2006) express the purpose of found data poems by stating: "The goal of such generating and presenting of this type of data is to inspire an empathic, emotional reaction, so the consumer of research can develop a deep, personal understanding of the subject' of the data" (p. 2). Found data poems offer ed a number of benefits in strengthening the study. As I was required to engage in an additional st ep focusing on the data, there wa s less room for interpretation and an increased emphasis on the actual content and meaning (Furman,
! ! 93 2006), providing what Geertz (1993) refers to as "thick description" essential to quality qualitative studies. Finally, as a writer, I am always mindful of my audience. In crafting t his dissertation, I hope English language arts educators will be among my readers. As I describe in Chapter Five, the study offers numerous implications for these educators' teaching practices. In this way, the adolescent girls participating in the study have the potential for initiating important changes in established teaching practices. By reducing selected segments of the data to their essential, core components a quality found in the best poems I was able to further emphasize the voices and pers pectives of the participants. As Furman (2006) has stated, the process of data reduction in creating found poems is "especially useful for advocacy purposes, as its compactness lends itself to various media" (p. 42). To maintain the integrity and power o f t he young females' voices, I did not alter their words in any of the gathered data (interviews, discussions, journal entries). Poindexter's (1997) process of creating research poems to present tr aditional qualitative data guide d my own work: As I coded each transcribed interview, I copied phrases, sentences or paragraphs which seemed to highlight the unique personality or perspective of the respondent and transferred them to another computer document. At the end of that process, I arranged the responden ts' phrases into stanzas which seemed to me to best represent the narrative flow and meaning, no changes were made to what the respondent had actually said. (p. 23) Remaining true to case study methodology, I engage d in the above process with my own interv iew data, as well as the discussion transcripts and participants' weekly journal
! ! 94 entries (Appendix K) The found data poems embody Guba and Lincoln's (1985) definition of a qualitative researcher: "They do what anthropologists, social scientists, essayis ts, and poets throughout the years have done. They emphasize, describe, judge, compare, portray, evoke images, and create, for the reader or listener, the sense of having been there" (page 149). After creating the found poems from the various forms of da ta, I chose to include those constructed using words and phrases from self identity statements the participants made during the individual initial interviews to help introduce the reader to the individual participant. The found poems and selected passages from my researcher reflective journal entries, therefore, begin each participant case study in the following chapter. Together they provide the reader with two perspectives for beginning to come to know each girl: my own thoughts, impressions and statem ents reflecting how each girl sees herself. Analysis/Description/Interpretation I began the data collection process guided by Kvale and Brinkman's (2009) strong directive that "the ideal interview is already analyzed by the time the sound recorder is turn ed off" (page 190). I knew 30 45 minute pre and post individual interviews with the five participants as well as eight one hour group book discussion meetings, weekly participant journal entries, as well as my own research reflective journal would result in a significant amount of data. Therefore a perspective of data analysis as an ongoing process, occurring simultaneous with collection, would prove vital. My researcher reflective journal proved invaluable as a tool to help me find focus and be attuned to deeply listening during the interviews and book discussions. As I turned my sound
! ! 95 recorder off, and the interview or book club meeting ended, I followed a predictable pattern of heading off to a nearby Starbucks and writing the field notes I was unable to construct during the interviews or meetings as my participants' reactions to my doing so had quickly let me know that this would intrude on the natural feel that was essential. While Kvale and Brinkman (2009) present a system for "meaning condensati on" from interview data, I applied the system to all forms of data colle cted. While qualitative methodology is acknowledged to be a messy process, Kvale and Brinkman provided an open, flexible, yet do able step by step guide. First, the complete intervi ew is read through to get a sense of the whole. Then, the natural "meaning units" of the text, as they are expressed by the subjects, are determined by the researcher. Third, the theme that dominates a natural meaning unit is restated by the researcher a s simply as possible, thematizing the statements from the subject's viewpoint as understood by the researcherThe fourth step consists of interrogating the meaning units in terms of the specific purpose of the study. In the fifth step, the essential, nonr edundant themes of the entire interview are tied togeth er into a descriptive statement (p p. 206 207) Feeling overwhelmed by the initial codes, I followed a process Saldaa employ ed with students in his qualitative research methods course. Presented as a tool to help alleviate the sense of "what do I do next?" beginning researchers may feel when faced with a list of codes, categories, or themes, Saldaa describe d the "Tabletop Categories" exercises in this way: We first code the data in the margins of hard copy, cut each coded "chunk" of data into separate pieces of paper, pile them together into appropriate categories,
! ! 96 staple each category's pile of coded data together, label each pile with its category name, then explore how they can be arranged on a tabl etop to map the categories' processes and structures. (Saldaa, 2009, page 188) Turning to the "Tabletop Categories" exercise was in stark contrast to my initial intention of employing one of the various qualitative coding software packages available. I c onsider myself someone who readily embraces technology tools when they present improved methods for accomplishing tasks. However, I ultimately chose to begin with Saldaa 's method for initiating the process involved in constant comparison as it afforded m e a hands on experience working with data in these various forms. Getting from Here to There Yin (2009) describes effective research design as laying a foundation for "getting from here to there" with "here" being the research questions and "there" the answers to those questions. He continues by explaining how the process of good research design is much more than this simplistic phrase implies. Effective research design, however, must provide evidence of an attention to both broad theoretical issue s and logistical on es. In creating a dissertation timeline, I attempted to address the latter. Dissertation t imeline One of our first assignments in Qualitative Research Methods II involved the importance of setting both long term and short term goals specifically in our role as doctoral students.
! ! 97 Researcher Reflective Journal October 2008 January 2011 Presentation to 8 th Grade Language Arts Classes about Book Club Study August 2010 Initial Interviews of Participants Mid August 2010 Book Clu b Meetings Weekly discussion transcription/analysis, participant journal collection/analysis, field notes, researcher reflective journal Mid August to Mid October 2010 Chapter 4 Presentation of Data December 2010 Chapter 5 Analysis and Summary Janua ry 2011 First Draft of Dissertation Early February 2011 Manuscript Draft Format Check Deadline Early March 2011 Public Posting of Dissertation Defense March 2011 Dissertation Defense April 2011 Final Copy Completed April 2011 UMI Registration April 2 011 Graduation May 2011 Table 4: Dissertation Timeline "Wh ere will you be in five years?" Dr. Janesick asked. Not uncharacteristically, my answer had elements reflecting my pragmatic and fantasist natures. Not surprisingly, therefore, my timeline tak ing me from the beginning of the study to completing the dissertation underwent a number of revisions (Table 4). An unexpected four month process to receive Institutional Review Board approval from the university and approval from the local public school d istrict both contributed to the major revisions of the timeline. Estimated dissertation e xpenses The success of any project depends in great part to careful planning and attention to detail. While I firmly believe in pursuing dreams, my
! ! 98 pragmatic side a lso knows funding those dreams can be costly. A doctoral d egree is one such dream. I consulted recently graduated, former doctoral students and notes I took as a student in Qualitative Research Methods II with Dr. Valerie Janesick, and construct ed a tabl e (Table 5 ) out lining what I anticipate I would need in order to complet e the dissertation. I understoo d, of c ourse, predicting all expenses wa s both impossibl e and nave. No doubt there wou l d be a host of other incidental expenses I had not listed. I t herefore attempted to over estimate the approximate costs of each item to compensate for the unforeseen. I purchased both a digital voice recorder and the corresponding digital recorder transcription kit which I used during the pilot study. As warned, th e amount of time I spent transcribing the two interviews for each of five participants and the eight one hour book club meeting s was considerable. I found, though, that the act of transcribing the data allowed me an additional opportunity to listen carefu lly and begin the data analysis process. In addition, since I had be en present for the interviews and group discussion I was able to differentiate individual girls' voices and combine a visual image of the speaker with what I heard on the voice recorder. My initial goal in designing the study wa s to complete as much of the transcription of intervie ws and book discussions as I could. I understood, however, that I might discover the time spent in the transcription process could be better spent on analyzing the data. My initial budget therefore included a n estimated cost of having all eight book club meetings professionally transcribed. I initially estimated the number of girls willing to participate in the book club as ten. Based on that estimate, I liste d the cost to purchase each reader two novels. Food is a significant factor in helping to build community and, while the cost of providing the
! ! 99 girls pizza and soda each week was considerable ($160.00) I believe the money was well spent. During the pilot study, I bought the participants pizza and soda and the walls of the school library in which the meeting was held seemed to disappear. The girls chatted amiably and for the most part ignored my presence (a fact that at first surprised, then greatly pleas ed me). The same proved true with the present study. I timed the pizza delivery to occur midway through the book discussions to provide the girls with a brief break although the discussions continued uninterrupted even with the presence of pizza and so da. The relaxed atmosphere I'd hoped for seemed to occur immediately as the time honored tradition of "breaking bread" helped the five adolescent females and I form a community of readers. As a result of a nticipating the costs to complete the dissertati on, I was able to set aside money to fund m ost expenses. I had also planned to apply for an ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English) Foundation Grant to supplement my own funds These grants "will fund dissertation research if there is clear evidence that the dissertation is closely related to young adult literature and will make a contribution to the field" (ALAN Foundation Grant, p. 1). Adolescent literature featuring strong female protagonists is a c entr al feature of my study, and I was hopefu l I would receive the grant to help fund my work. Up to $1,500.00 per application may be awarded, an amount which would have cover ed over half the costs anticipated.
! ! 100 Item Needed Approximate Cost Funds Required? Voice Recorder (Sony ICD SX57 Digital Voice Recorder) $150.00 No Transcription Kit (Sony FS85USB Digital Recorder Transcription Kit) $130.00 No Novels 10 x $8.00 = $80.00 Yes Pizza and Soda 8 x $20.00 = $160.00 Yes Manuscript Processing Submission Fee $100.00 Yes Microfilming Fee $65.00 Yes Copy Editing of Dissertation $300.00 Yes ProQuest UMI Fee $165.00 Yes Transcription Service of 8 1 hour Book Club Discussions 8 x $150.00 = $1,200.00 Yes Final Dissertation Copies $5 00.00 Yes TOTAL FUNDS NEEDED $2,650.00 Table 5: Estimated Dissertation Expenses Chapter S ummary The present study describes and explains selected adolescent girls' perspectives on identity through an after school book club. The exploratory questio ns that guided the analysis were the following: 1. What elements constitute selected adolescent girls' perceptions of identity? 2. What influences their self identity performance? I explore d these questions by collecting and analyzing data including: t ranscripts of initial and final individual semi structured interviews, participant reader response journals, transcripts of weekly book discussions, field notes, and a researcher reflective journal. Data was analyzed using the constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1 967). This tiered process bega n by examining the document (whether interview or discussion transcripts or response journal entries) and comparing student responses and identifying tentative categories. These tentative categories were then examined for
! ! 101 similarities and reduced to a small number of conceptual categories. Each category was considered saturated when no new codes can b e added. Finally, data was recoded with each set of categories. The analysis from that data coding proce ss has been reported in subsequent chapters of the dissertation. Employing credibility strategies, I have attempt ed to ensure the accuracy of the study's findings through extensive time in the field, crystallization peer debriefing, member checking, cla rification of researcher bias, and thick descriptions of the participants and settings. In this chapter, I have also included practical consideration s pertaining to this study. I outlined what wa s an admittedly ambitious, but in my view attainable timeli ne for completing the dissertation. I attempted to construct a budget with items and their costs needed to conduct the study and fulfill the university requirements associated with the dissertation. With an awareness of these costs, I outlined my plans f or funding these requirements including my application of a $1500 ALAN Foundation Grant. My goal in conducting this study wa s to listen to the voice of girls and understand the role of reading in the exploration of what it means to be a female With this understanding, I hope to advocate for a more expansive view of reading and to help other teachers remember, to borrow from the title of Dennis Sundara's book, why r eading still matters in schools.
! ! 102 Chapter Four Presentation of the Data The purpose of this study wa s to describe and explain selected adolescent girls' perspectives on identity through an after school book club. The following exploratory questions guide d the analysis: 1. What elements cons titute selected adolescent girl s perceptions of identity? 2. What influences their self identity expression? Following the research design of the study presented in C hapter T hree, this chapter begins with a case study of the book club and individual case studies of three adolescent females who part icipated in the book club Data collected and analyzed to create the case studies included semi structured interviews, group discussions, participant journals, researcher field notes, and researcher's reflective journa l. These multiple sources of data not only fulfill a requirement of case study data collection, but also reflect a strength of case study as a research method (Merriam, 2009; Yin, 2009). However, multiple sources of data alone do not ensure a high quality case study. In the present study, t hese multiple sources of data were collected, analyzed, and ultimately supported in unison significant findings addressing the two exploratory questions. I have modified and adapted a figure used by Yin (2009) to visually represent this process using one of the study findings as an example.
! ! 103 Researcher Initial Final Reflective Interview Interview Journal Transcripts Transcripts Participant Discussion Reader Transcripts Re sponse Journals Figure 1: Example Convergence of Multiple Sources of Data Key to rigorous case studies is defining the case: the unit of analysis. This process should be guided by the exploratory questions. The first question in the present study asked : What elements constitute selected adolescent females' perceptions of identity through an after school book club? I therefore determined the necessity of a multi case study involving the members of the book club in order to gather and analyze data indic ating various perceptions of identity. The individual participant perceptions would be shared and expressed in a collaborative social environment, and I further determined that the book club would be defined as another case or unit of analysis. With the cases clearly defined, I proceeded to initial data collection with initial participant interviews. Yin (2006) emphasizes defining the unit of analysis as a critical first step in case study research, yet also asserts, "A virtue of the case study method is the ability to redefine the case' after collecting some early data" (p.121). Following the initial participant interviews, I therefore redefined the cases as the book club, and three of the five participants. These three participants were selected as c ases that show different Finding: Literary characters provide adolescent femal es relationships to explore and express new self identities.
! ! 104 perspectives (Merriam, 2009; Yin, 2006, 2009). Tables 6, 7, and 8 provide an overview of data gathered addressing the two exploratory questions that guided me in the case study selection. While Katie and Rachel were not discussed individually in case studies, their voices and perspectives were intertwined with all of the participants in the book club discussions. They were therefore included within the book club case study. I n organizing the sections of the case study, I allowed the data to be my guide As a way of highlighting the voice of each participant, I begin with a found data poem constructed using exact words and phrases used by the participant. Following the found data poem, I present a narrative of my first encounter w ith the participant. My purpose is two fold: First, I hope to enable the reader to follow along with me as I present the journey in which I came to know five unique adolescent females both as individuals and as part of a single entity the book club. A lso, as a qualitative researcher I am keenly aware of the need to be aware of and bracket data with my own bias. In Chapter Three I discussed how my researcher reflective journal was a tool I used to achieve this awareness and to make this visible to the reader as well. Impressions of each participant entered into the journal following the individual interviews were therefore interwoven in the narrative. Following the description of my first impressions of the participant, I present background informatio n about each girl. This is again important in a study adopting a sociocultural perspective of identity in which identities are socially situated. The background information provides a view of social realms other than the book club especially home and f amily.
! ! 105 Next, I share participants' self identity statements drawn primarily from the individual interviews. A point of clarification should be made here concerning the use of the terms identity and self identity. This study employed a perspective of iden tities as multiple constructed, developed, and expressed in various social arenas (Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, & Cain, 1998; Gee, 2000). Within those mutable, multiple identities there exists a core identity often referred to as a self identity or tru e identity (Gee, 2000). In these next two chapters, I endeavored to clarify identity and self identity. When the participants made statements about their own identity (often begun with "I am") I employed the term self identity. At all other times, I use d the term identity. From the self identity statements I continue by addressing the two exploratory questions guiding the study: 1. What elements constitute selected a dolescent girls' perceptions of identity through an after school book club? 2. What elements i nfluence their perspectives? I begin the presentation of the cases with the book club as a case I present a portrait of the book club as an entity, background information on its origins, participant perspectives on the book club, and conclude by address ing the two exploratory questions guiding the study. Next, I present each of the three participant case studies. Finally, I present a cross case analysis in order to further emphasize similarities and differences between the three participant cases and th e collective case study of the book club. This act of continuously exploring and considering the data from multiple angles is part of crystallization (Richardson & Pierre, 2005) which strengthened the study findings. Exploring the individual cases, I ass umed one angle of repose. Exploring the cases in
! ! 106 relation to one another, I assumed additional angles. Shifting from angle to angle I allowed the reader to experience an important aspect of my data analysis procedures, further strengthening the study thr ough transparency of research methods. Notes for the Reader: Transcription C onventions A few important notes should be made to help the reader understand the chapter more fully. Transcription of all data was completed by the researcher. While a time in tensive task, transcribing the data was a significant contribution to ward achieving my goals of accurately representing the voices and perspectives of the adolescent girls in the study and fully immersing me in the data to ensure accuracy in its analysis. Verbal comments alone, however, do not constitute the full measure of research data that can be mined from interviews or discussions. Silence as well as verbal expressions are valued in this study. While this approach runs contrary to the dominant cultu re in America, it is completely in line with many American Indian communities, as Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday (1997) expressed. Silence is powerful. It is the dimension in which ordinary and extraordinary events take their proper places. In the India n world, a word is spoken or a song is sung not against, but within the silence. In the telling of a story, there are silences in which words are anticipated or held on to, heard to echo in the still depths of the imagination. In the oral tradition, sile nce is the sanctuary of sound. Words are wholly alive in the hold of silence; they are sacred. (p 16). I made every attempt, therefore, to represent the presence of silence in its various form. Ellipses such as "these " are used to indicate moments whe n a speaker enters silence after verbal utterances either by her own choice (as in a statement or question begun, but
! ! 107 left unfinished as a choice of the speaker) or by the interruption of another participant. The ellipses proved critical to express the fr equent occurrence of the participants engaging in collaborative conversations which resulted in co constructed meaning statements. Ex amples of these episodes were represented with ellipses beginning and/or ending participant statements, such as the episod e below in which the girls co construct ed a unified response to my question asking them to define the term "strong female protagonist Bianca: A character who's a protagonist or antagonist who shows traits that are very Lacey: ...superior Rachelnot al ways dependent on the guy Bianca: who's not a follower or a watcher, but a doer and a thinker and a goer! Sarah: like an independent woman Lacey: independent, strong, maybe superior and mainly intelligent [discussion transcripts, September 2010] M om ents of silence either individually (most often in the individual interviews) or collectively we re labeled to reflect the duration of the occurrence. A brief, but intentional silence following a question posed during one of the initial or final interviews for example wa s indicated by a notation such as this: (pause) or this (long pause). While transcribing and presenting data, I remained constantly aware of my responsibility as a researcher to protect the identities of the study participants, knowing t hat when working with minors, this responsibility is especially critical. I made every attempt, therefore, to fulfill that responsibility in a number of ways. In completing the
! ! 108 transcriptions, I used participant selected pseudonyms to ensure confidential ity. Names of friends, family members, and schools attended were changed to researcher selected pseudonyms. Additionally, any other details that might identify specific girls were omitted. C ontext Discussion of the study setting and details describing p rocedural aspects of the book club can be found in Chapter Three; however, it is important to revisit this contextual information in order to lay preparatory groundwork for the participant and book club case studies that follow. All five participants in t he study were, at the time of the study, eighth grade students attending Gulfside Fundamental Middle School, a k eight public school in a large urban school district in the Southeastern United States. I presented the opportunity to participate in the stud y to eighth grade females in both average and advanced language arts classes; however all five participants who volunteered to be part of the study came from advanced classes. While I presented information about participating in the book club study to stu dents in their language arts classes held at the middle school, the individual interviews and book club meetings took place at a public park adjacent to the middle school. As I told the girls, I hoped that by leaving the school site to sit and talk at pic nic tables in a waterfront park they would feel more comfortable sharing freely their thoughts and ideas about the books. To further build a sense of community, I purchased pizza and soda for the girls to eat and drink during the book discussions.
! ! 109 Cas e Study: Book C lub Super Girl Nerd Squad I Expressed a lot of my opinions Debated with the other girls (and won) Looked at other perspectives I'm More feminist More aware Able to talk to people It was Enlightening Humbling Empowering Opening doors in your mind [found data poem from final interview transcripts, October 2010] Meeting the Book Club: From My Researcher Reflective J ournal The bell signaling the end of seventh period and therefore the school day r ang promptly at 1:30 pm. Wednesday having been determined by the school district as an "early release day" allowing staff to engage in professional development will be ou r meeting day for the next eight weeks. The one hour meetings will bring us to the time parents would usually pick up their daughters from the school (part of the status as a fundamental school meant parents would be required to provide transportation) my reason for selecting Wednesday as I hoped parents would support participation in the book club if for no other reas on than convenience. I s a t at the picnic table in the park adjacent to the school. The same place where I had conducted the initial interviews with each of the girls the week before, and the same place where (weather permitting) we will gather for 1 hour once a week for the next eight weeks talking about the books we'd read. As I wait ed for the five girls who have agreed to participate in the study to emerge from the
! ! 110 chaos of backpacks, screams, laughter and general adolescent exuberance, I realize d that the careful planning I have outlined in my dissertation proposal and Institutional Review Board application is just that: an outline. I wonder ed with a mixture of both excitement and apprehension: What will happen when I turn on the digital voice record er? [researcher reflective journal, August 2010] Background on the Book C lub Gulfside Fundamental Middle School is located on waterfront property overlooking a busy waterway. Mangroves, a boardwalk, and a small beach run from the southwest side of the sch ool to a public park adjacent to the school property. Holding the weekly book club meetings at one of the picnic tables at the park provided a study site that was not only convenient for the participants and their parents, but also conducive to a relaxed atmosphere in which the girls would feel comfortable enough to engage in rich discussions. Each Wednesday afternoon for eight weeks, I met the girls at our designated location at the back of the school, and the six of us made our way to the park to eat pi zza, drink soda, and talk about books. As the girls and I trekked across the park to the picnic table where we would hold our first book discussion meeting, the topic of names arose. In each of the individual interviews I told the girls they would need t o select a pseudonym and the reason why they would need to do this. The discussion on the way to the picnic table began with each girl sharing her selected pseudonym and then sifted to the book club. The consensus among the girls was that the group, too, required a name. Lacey and Bianca indicated they had already discussed this between themselves and decided on a name. Lacey and Bianca: The Super Nerds
! ! 111 Bianca: No, no Super Girl Nerd Squad. Squad is a cool word. We've gotta use it somehow. It's a very cool group, cause I'm in it. You know, if I weren't in it, it would be totally natural for all you guys to just talk about books. But I make everything difficult. Semi intentionally. [discussion transcripts, August 2010] With this statement, Bianca not only established the name all the girls would adopt when referring to the group, but also foreshadowed future elements of the book club discussions. The girls did indeed talk about much more than "just" the books. Bianca did at various times challenge the books, the characters in the book, the other participants in the club, and the participant observer. Participant Self Identity Statements about the Book C lub With the girls' proc lamation that the group should be named The Super Girl Nerd Squad, they established a new collective identity. During a discussion of the book Uprising the girls revealed their involvement in the book club had bound them together into a unified and prote ctive whole. In Uprising the girls learned about the connection between the advent of unions and the women's suffrage movement in America. As we talked about the suffrage movement, I shared with them that all female book clubs were the collective birth places of the suffrage movement. H Dawg: Men didn't prevent their wives from attending the meetings because they thought they were just sitting around talking about books something they saw as "harmless." Little did they know Lacey: That's what peopl e say to us when we talk about the book club.
! ! 112 Katie: So women got together and began to realize what was going on. Sarah: They started thinking we could do something together. H Dawg: Exactly. Rachel: Some people make fun of us because we're in a book club. They don't make fun of it around me because they know that if they do they're going to get hurt (giggles). Bianca: I don't even let people talk about it. Lacey: The nerd group. Bianca: No, it's the Super Girl Nerd Squad. Sarah: Nerdy things are good sometimes. Lacey: It expands your mind. Bianca: Girl power. [discussion transcripts, August 2010] While the book club developed into a new part of their self identities, within the book club, characters in the novels discussed served as conduits th rough which the girls shared self identity statements with the group. Often, these self identity statements occurred within the context of expressing a personal connection with the character as Bianca made in the following statement about the character Ye tta in Uprising : "I like Yetta because she's Jewish like I am. And she's revolutionary. And she wants to stick up for herself. And she's willing to do anything that it takes." [discussion transcripts, September 2010] At other times, an individual girl's connection with a character via self identity was not expressed as openly. This was frequently due to negative statements the other girls had made regarding the character, as was the case with the polarizing character Jane in Uprising Bianca came out s trongly in her expression of dislike for Jane, and after the
! ! 113 other girls shared their own negative feelings for the character, Katie at first ventured only as far as quietly defending Jane. Bianca: You know who really ticks me off? Jane. I was telling K atie about this earlier. She's a little rich girl but still, she can't even be happy. She can't even be happy with her tea parties and everything. Katie: That's why she feels trapped. Bianca: I know, I know, but she can't even be happy with what she ha s. I don't like her because even though she has so much she can't even be happy. She's envious of the girls walking outside the freakin' factory. Can you say BLINDED?! Katie: Because they're free and she's not. Bianca: Well, I know, but still she could for once think outside her little box of oh, poor miserable me. And actually think about other people. I mean, even though she wants to learn, she still has no regard for anyone else but herself. Have you noticed that? Katie: No. Bianca: She just wan ts to have these experiences herself; she doesn't want to help other people. Katie: Jane is learning about women's rights to go to college. [discussion transcripts, September 2010] Weeks later as we progressed further into t he story, Bianca returned to the topic of Jane. Her comments reveal how deeply the girls entered the text world and related to the characters not as characters, but as individuals. Rarely did the girls ever use the word
! ! 1 14 "character" referring directly t o them by name. Other language tools separating the girls' world from the text world were also noticeably absent. Rarely do the girls begin statements with phrases such as "The author writes" or "The character of " Entering into a text is a nearly comp lete submersion into a world. The week following the above discussion of the character Jane, Bianca and Katie continued their debate. Bianca: Okay, about Jane. I have begrudgingly forgiven her. Katie: I knew you would. Bianca: But I don't like i t. I don't like it, and I'm not gonna pretend that I'm welcoming her back with open arms because I don't like her and I still don't think I'd ever really like her, but I begrudgingly forgive her for being such a snob. But I guess it's sort of holding a g rudge against someone because of their circumstances. [discussion transcripts, October 2010] Both exchanges between the two girls reflect self identity statements made during the initial interviews. Bianca challenged Katie's perspective and situated herse lf as a debater. Katie identified herself during the interview as intelligent, and through her ability to perceive what Bianca does not that even a life of privilege and wealth can feel like being imprisoned Katie reflected and expressed this identity Perceptions of Identity As the book club the girls assumed an additional identity. This collective identity as "The Super Girl Nerd Squad" mirrored elements of individual identities regarding self identity statements and collaboratively created percepti ons of identity. The collective identity is often seen in the transcripts through a string of ellipses indicating a thought or
! ! 115 idea partially shared by one participant, then quickly built upon by another, and then another, etc. Like pieces of a puzzle ea ch girl contributed individually to a collective whole. The text world of the two novels provided both the setting and the avenue through which The Super Girl Nerd Squad acted as a single entity with individual facets. One way this multi faceted entity ca n be seen is in the collaborative perception of the relationship between identity and physical characteristics. Individually, the girls each expressed a perspective that identity is expressed and perceived through physical characteristics. Knowing from p ast experiences working with adolescent book discussion clubs that in books featuring multiple central characters, there is a fascination with looking at the cover to determine who's who, I asked the girls if they'd done this. After an enthusiastic yes, t he girls then shared their ideas about who's who and why. Their observations as a group support statements made individually that physical characteristics are an expression of identity. Katie: That one's Jane, definitely, cause she's all prettified or something. Lacey: She looks Italian. Sarah: I think that's Bella, cause of her hair. Lacey: Yetta's in the middle cause she looks very Yiddish. Bianca: I think it kind of ruins it, because then you're oh, I pictured the character this way, not tha t way. [discussion transcripts, September 2010] Identity as a sociocultural construct In wrapping up the final discussion on the book, Frankie Landau Banks I presented the following passage from the text and asked the girls to react to it:
! ! 116 "I will not t ire you with details except to say that Frankie's position at family gatherings was slightly different. She'd surprised everyone. They were not quite sure where she fit anymore. If she was not bunny rabbit as it was finally clear that she was not, who w as she?" [discussion transcripts citing Frankie Landau Banks p. 135] The girls' responses indicate a shared perspective that identity is not only socially constructed and expressed, but rather than a single fixed identity (singular), there exists multiple identities situated in multiple sociocultural environments. Rachel: She's rabid bunny rabbit. Lacey: She's a lioness. Sarah: Well, I wouldn't exactly say lioness, because the personality of a lioness doesn't really fit her. Bianca: A panther. Kind of a shady character now. Rachel: She's someone who can transform at the scene. She can be a bunny rabbit at times, then she can be a panther, and a lion. She can transform at the scene. Katie: She can be different animals and act different at differen t times. Sarah: Like a shape shifter. Rachel: Well, she can transform to whatever she needs to depending on the situation she's put into. [discussion transcripts, August 2010] Identity as developmental During the final interviews, I asked the girls whe ther or not they felt they'd changed as a result of participating in the book club. Each girl indicated some form of shift in their perspective on feminist issues. Bianca made a direct
! ! 117 connection between reading and feminist identity when she responded, "Maybe I'm more feminist because I read more feminist books." To clarify her perspective and how she defined feminism, I then asked Bianca what it meant to be feminist. Her perspective reflected her earlier self identity statements about being an environ mentalist as both focus on activism. Bianca stated, "Being feminist is like notit's basically a progress that females are still making to battle against to fight against previous stigmas that are attached to womanhood." I then asked her if she felt she wasn't that way before. Bianca replied, "Maybe not. I've always been kind of a feminist. I think it helped, though." [final interview transcripts, October 2010] Lacey's response to the question "Have you changed as a result of participating in the book club?" continued to reflect her self identity statements made during the initial interview. I don't know, after reading the first book, about the girl Frankie, I don't know, it just made me think about how things like that she's like what I aspire to be Maybe not the criminal mastermind part, but being a leader of all she was basically the leader of the whole school. Everyone followed what she did [final interview transcripts, October 2010] I then asked Lacey why she felt Frankie became the leader of the whole school when no one at the school knew that she was the one committing all the pranks. Yeah, so like I guess they thought they were following boys or men, but she still did it and eventually everyone found out. So I think they felt differently about it, too. Like they didn't think it was as interesting that a girl did it. I don't know why. [final interview transcripts, October 2010]
! ! 118 To encourage Lacey to elaborate, I asked her how that changed her. Lacey responded, I don't know, I guess it just makes me think makes me think about it. How females perceive other females, how men view females [final interview transcripts, October 2010] Sarah, too, expressed she'd developed a more feminist identity as a result of participating in the book club. Well, the j ournal is just a personal thing a diary sort of and it was whatever came to me in the book and the thoughts I had. And then the actual book club was really, really fun and I got to meet new people and to talk to them. And it was inte resting because everyone had different views and it wasn't just me being, like, saying stuff. And I got a look at different it kind of made me look at things differently. I then asked Sarah what kinds of things she looked at differently now. Like the wo men's rights. I never really thought about that, but it kind of came up and I was --my brain started looking at things differently. Like now when someone says something, like, the girls' bathroom doors. When you look at them, the woman's one it kind of looks like a man with a dress. And it made me think about that and I'm like, why would they put a man in a dress? And why couldn't they make hair for the girl? Just random stuff like that [final interview transcripts, October 2010] Finally, I aske d Sarah: So it helped you notice what you hadn't noticed before? She responded, Yeah. We're not just men with dresses.
! ! 119 Influences on Participants' Self Identity Expression Physical attributes of the social environment. Katie also responded to the qu estion "How have you changed as a result of the book club?" with a statement about being able to speak up more. Katie stated, "I talk more and I think about books more. Like I talk more in classes because I can talk." [final interview transcripts, Octobe r 2010] Katie contrasted the environment in classrooms with the environment in the book meetings. Well, classrooms are a lot bigger and more people want to talk at once so I don't really get a chance to say anything if we were having a classroom discussio n, but here it's small and I can have my own turn to talk. So I can say everything. [final interview transcripts, October 2010] When I asked if there were any classes in school where small group activities took place, Katie's response indicated her percep tion that physical size alone does not constitute an environment conducive to her self identity expression. Katie stated, "Miss D sometimes, but sometimes I don't talk in there cause the kids in there I don't really know all that well." [final interview transcripts, October 2010] For Rachel, too, the book club's small size helped her express her self identity. I asked her if her participation in the book club discussions was different from her participation in classroom discussions. Her response contra sted the physical size of the two environments. Yeah, because usually I don't really participate in class discussions for some reason. I just like listening to other people and if I have something to input I'll put in just small bits, but not much. In th e book club I think I was more open
! ! 120 because there were less of us, so you could talk a little bit more and express your feelings. Plus, classrooms are a larger crowd and I don't like large crowds [final interview transcripts, October 2010] Attitudinal at tributes of the book club social environment. During the individual final interviews, I asked each of the girls to describe their experiences participating in the book club. Their responses describe their individual perspectives on the attitudinal attrib utes of the book club social environment. Bianca stated: I thought it was really fun. I kind of got to express a lot of my opinions (and I have a lot of opinions) and so I also, I'm a big debater, so I really liked debating with the other girls on our vi ewpoints and winning. I like to win. It's one of my favorite things winning. [final interview transcripts, October 2010] I asked Rachel what she liked about the book club and why, and in her response, Rachel focused on the collaborative community creat ed in the book club. The fact that you got to talk to everybody about the same book and you're basica lly at the same part and you're understanding it together. Cause it helps you understand the book better, it gives you different perspective. And then w hen you get further in the book you'l l be like oh, that makes sense that connects with what we were talking about before on page whatever. It just gives you a different perspective than what the book gives you, yourself. And then when you get later on in the book you keep that perspective with you and you think about different things that you might not have thought about before [final interview transcripts, October 2010]
! ! 121 Sarah, too, cited the collaboration of multiple perspectives as being a positive asp ect of the book club when she stated, "Well, I liked the girls a lot. They're all really sweet, and they all had their own personalities and they were interesting and very independent." [final interview transcripts, October 2010] Attitudinal attributes o f the book club are also evident in the book discussions. In the following interaction among the girls, Lacey shared a self identity statement as being a "people pleaser." When Bianca's attitude toward her expression is perceived by Lacey as belittling, Lacey confronts her and is supported by the other girls. Lacey: I guess I'm kind of opposite because even when people I don't like call me mean names it affects me. It always has. Because I guess I'm like a people pleaser, and I worry about what othe r people think about me. I don't know why. It's just something I've always done. Bianca: Well, it's a natural teen insecurity, but eventually you develop a Lacey: Do NOT belittle me! Stop belittling me! Bianca: I'm not belittling you. Lacey ( joined by the other girls' voices): You are belittling me/her. Sarah then offered a self identity statement further supporting Lacey, and the situation began to be diffused as Bianca joined Sarah. Sarah: There are people who have said bad things about me and my friends before, but they don't matter to me. Sure I know them and I was acquainted with them, but if they're going to say that and they have to be behind my back to say
! ! 122 that, are they really worth it? Like, are they worth talking to or anything? That's the way I look at it. Lacey: Like me I flip out when people do say mean stuff about me behind my back. Bianca: Yeah. And there are girls who don't even care, like Sarah I mean. Sarah: I don't see the point of caring. Like, it's such a waste of time. Bianca: Yeah. Evidence that the environment of the book club had been restored to one conducive to self identity expression came from Lacey. Finally, Bianca used humor to bring the sense of community back once again. Lacey: This girl called m e a lesbian behind my back. In a derogatory way. And I went up to her and said, "Look, did you call me a lesbian?" And she said no. And I know she did. Katie: Emily. Lacey: She's a liar. Bianca: Something like that happened to me, but it involved rubber band animals and I'm not going to go into that. All: Oh God (giggles). [discussion transcripts, September 2010] This was not the first instance in which tension arose between Bianca and Lacey. Here, Sarah played a mediating/facilitating role a role alternatively played by each of the book club participants. In the first meeting, soft spoken Sarah was constantly interrupted by Bianca, who took center stage and engaged the girls in the club she knew best in quasi discussions that seemed to furth er separate Sarah from the group. Unprompted,
! ! 123 Lacey took up the position of supporting Sarah as a full participant in the book club discussions. Without drawing attention to Sarah, Lacey spoke directly to Bianca about her dominating position, and then tu rned her body toward Sarah and made eye contact with her silently communicating that Sarah now has the space in which to talk to the group. Lacey showed a mastery of how to address such domination while supporting and maintaining the positive atmosphere within the group. Lacey: Bianca, I think you should let other people speak. I can speak as loud as you can, but I choose not to so I can let other people speak. Bianca: That's exactly it a choice. Lacey: Yeah, you should make a good choice. Bianc a: And I should do this because? Lacey: Because you're a nice person sometimes. [discussion transcripts, August 2010] During the final interview, I read this section of the discussion transcript back to Lacey and asked her to comment. Lacey stated, "I had to get her (Bianca) to stop talking so Sarah could say something. I'm that kind of person who does that with my friends." [final interview transcripts, October 2010] Bianca continued to threaten to dominate the book club discussions, and while this th reat had been kept in check primarily through the collective efforts of the group, by the third meeting I wondered if a mechanism for ensuring one voice, one participant spoke at a time might be an effective tool. In this way, Lacey, the one strongest eno ugh to keep Bianca from dominating, would not end up frustrated over having to constantly play this role. I therefore suggested a talking stick, some object that carried with it the
! ! 124 agreement that only the individual with the talking stick would have perm ission to speak protecting each girl's right to have her voice heard. To ensure that the decision whether or not to adopt this tool as a group practice was the sole responsibility of the girls, I left the group briefly to get the pizza and drinks. Sinc e I left the digital recorder still running, I later discovered when transcribing the week's discussion that the group was decidedly divided in their opinion of whether or not this tool should be introduced. In the discussion, the girls revealed their kee n awareness of how sociocultural environments are created and are often, as Bianca stated, "restrictive." Bianca: I don't think it's a good idea because it kind of says that this is a restrictive atmosphere where you can't talk unless you have permission. Lacey: Well, you're the one who's always interrupting people. Bianca: Let's not point fingers. Katie: I think we should be able to say something when we want to without other people interrupting us. Sarah: Well, if someone really wants to say somet hing really badly they could just clap. [discussion transcripts, September 2010] While some clapping occurred during the following book club meeting, eventually this practice ended and the girls returned to effectively self monitoring the discussions. No t only did the environmental factors of the book club contribute to the girls' self identity expression in the book club, but also in other environments environments described as not conducive to their self identity expression. Sarah stated this was her experience when I asked her during the final interview if she felt she'd changed as a result of participating in the book club.
! ! 125 Definitely it made me think differently. And I guess with people too. I'm very shy at first. And I'm a little scared of like people in general. It's not that I don't like them, but like I get confused a lot. And it made me think like that if I get to know people better and I listen morenot really listen more, but take things in more. It's a lot easier to talk to people. Y eah. [final interview transcripts, October 2010] As our last book discussion meeting drew to a close, I took the opportunity to pose questions to the girls about reading and identity exploration. H Dawg: How many of you have read other books that have fem ale protagonists who are very strong, empowered, and challenging? (hands go up) Does reading these books make any changes in you as a female? Lacey: Well, I think it does when I'm watching a movie where the woman is empowered because then I have a visual because I just now started liking reading. So maybe eventually, as I advance as a reader, I'll get better. But when I watch movies that are about female empowerment, I don't know, but I know it sounds really cheesy, but after I watch "Bring it On" I wa nt to go and do something. It's all about female empowerment. Especially with those girls who are cheerleaders; it's really empowering. Katie: The books and movies make me think what can I do to be kind of like that but still keep my own personality. Bianca: In Frankie Landau Banks half that stuff I would seriously do. H Dawg: So you get ideas of things to do, but you don't think they affect you?
! ! 126 Bianca: Well, they make me think. And you know: I think; therefore I am. [discussion transcripts, Oct ober 2010] Introduction to Participant Case Studies The five adolescent females who comprised the study participants appear to be a homogenous group. All 13 14 years of age, white, middle class and enrolled in advanced academic classes these girls coul d easily fall into Kindlon's (2006) Alpha Girl profile. A cursory glance at the table (Table 7) presenting an overview of the self identity statements the girls made during the initial interview seems to provide further evidence that Pipher's (1994) Ophel ia has been replaced by Kindlon's model of today's adolescent female. Coming to know these girls in the eight weeks we spent together, though, I discovered how powerfully complex they are. In the introduction to this text I wondered what I would find whe n I listened to the voices of these adolescent females. I asked: "Will I find Ophelias or Alpha Girls? Or perhaps both?" My goal in presenting selected case studies of the girls who participated in the after school book club was to paint multi layered portraits of adolescent females who defy dichotomous, simplistic labeling. F ollowing the tenets of high quality qualitative research methods, I drew on multiple and varied forms of data (individual interviews, group discussions, participant journals, and a researcher reflective journal), and offer these case studies as in depth portraits of these adolescent females.
! ! 127 SARAH KATIE LACEY RACHEL BIANCA Shy X Independent X X X X X Relationship Oriented X X X Goal Oriented X X X Artistic X Reader X X X Leader X Intelligent X X Outgoing X Impulsive X Creative X Table 6 : Participant s Self Identity Statements The First Case: Sarah Sarah Super shy Learning by just listening Feeling comfortable the vibes M usic, books reflecting who I am Thinking like a book Artistic Painting with watercolors Taking on a life of its own Never a solid truth to things Living to see the world in all stages [Found data poem from initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Mee ting Sarah From My Researcher Reflective Journal The end of the day, seventh period students bustl e around the classroom, grabbing backpacks, shoving chairs haphazardly under tables all the while contributing to the cacophony of adolescents leaving sch ool. I barely notice her at first, but in a momentary parting of the sea of students I glimpse a lone figure whose silence and still posture capture my attention. She waits until I approach her; ask her why she's here,
! ! 128 before quietly presenting a copy of the book club flyer. "Oh, are you interested in joining the book club?" I ask. Sarah nods and says simply, "Ye s ." Following this first meeting with Sarah, I find my reaction to her is complicated. She is quiet, shy yet during the interview Sarah resp onds to my questions easily and fully and I am pleasantly surprised. Yet as a researcher, I am concerned that her shyness will translate into silence in the book club discussions. I worry that the comfort she feels speaking one on one with me may not be the case during the book club meetings where Sarah will be interacting with four other girls. No talking means no data. I'm glad Sarah's joining the club, though. It's interesting that Sarah has joined the book club on her own. She brings me the book c lub flyer by herself not accompanied by a friend, as is the case with the other girls. I can't help but wonder if Sarah has joined the book club as an intentional act of defiance against her shyness. [researcher reflective journal, August 2010] Backgro und on Sarah Like the other participants, Sarah is in the eighth grade at Gulfside Fundamental Middle School, a public school in a large, urban school district. Like many other students at the school, Sarah did not attend Gulfside last year. Both Sarah and Bianca another participant in the book club study, attended elite, college preparatory schools (though not the same schools). Sarah stated her academic experiences at the school were positive and that her reasons for leaving were social. It wasn't a good fit for me, though. It was not a good fit. The people thereI don't know if it's changed since then, but I didn't really like a lot of the people. They were really immatureThey didn't have a lot of Like they were really nice peopleThey were al l genuinely nice. And then I had a few really close friends again,
! ! 129 but a lot of my friends left to go to other schools and a lot of my friends were in the high school and so I feel a lot more comfortable here [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] F or her final year of middle school therefore Sarah and her parents decided to have her attend Gulfside where her close friends, Katelyn and Matthew attend. Sarah lives with her mother, father, and 12 year old brother in an upper middle class beach comm unity not far from Gulfside. She offer ed varied information about her relationship with her parents reflecting the shifting parent child dynamics often occurring during the early adolescent years When asked in the initial interview what was important to her, Sarah first stated, "Art." Perhaps feeling the statement needed modifying, she then included a hierarchical relationship statement by adding, And my friends. I'm not that close to my family, but I guess they're important to me." [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Sarah indicated her parents allow her a great deal of freedom based on both trust and her excellent academic performance. Sarah's ambivalence toward this was clear both in her initial statement and following my probe. As long as I get good grades, I'm allowed to do pretty much anything. I mean, my parents like they don't really care that I hang out with people who smoke pot, like they don't want me to, but they let me, they trust me that I won't do it because I get good grades As soon as I let my grades drop I'm not allowed to do anything, but as long as my grades are good I'm allowed to do pretty much anything. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] I then ask Sarah how she felt about this.
! ! 130 I don't know. My friends' parents would never let them do some of the stuff that I've been doing and I kind of like it because I've been given more opportunities, but then I think about it and wonder do they just want me to have good grades? And I know they love me, like, I know t hey do, but I don't know if they're just concerned more about grades than anything else. Because, what if I went to a party and stuff and I decided to get high once, right, and I like died, and they let me go just because I got good grades? [initial inter view transcripts, August 2010] The topic of school and grades came up again during the initial interview with Sarah when I asked her what life was like for her now. In her response, Sarah presented herself as highly goal oriented. I focus a lot on school. I really want to get good grades. Maybe it's a little early, but I know the three top colleges I want to go to and I pretty much have to get all As to go to them: Dartmouth, Brown, and Georgetown. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] In Sarah' s school world are her two best friends, Katelyn and Matthew, but she emphasized that her circle of friends lies mostly outside of the school environment. Each summer, Sarah spends time with her extended family in New Jersey where she has developed close friendships. In her neighborhood, too, Sarah has a small group of friends. In both New Jersey and her home neighborhood, Sarah stated that a unique feature of her small group of close friends is their wide range in age saying, "I have friends there who a re 18 and 20, and I have friends here who go to FSU that I knew before. I also have friends who are 11 and 12." [initial interview transcripts, August
! ! 131 2010] Throughout the initial interview, Sarah repeatedly emphasized relationships with others as an imp ortant part of her self identity. Self I d entity S tatements While factual information about Sarah's home, family, friends, and school background lays a foundation to getting to know Sarah, her statements reflecting her perception of her self identity more f ully paint the portrait of who she is and how she sees herself. My first question in the initial interview with Sarah was one I asked all of the girls: "How would you describe yourself?" Sarah's response indicated she sees herself as shy and a listener providing a sociocultural context for both of those self identity statements: "Like me as a person? I'm really shy at first. Like really, really shy." [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] While her self identity statements include "shy" and "a listener," Sarah stressed that she was not, as she put it "anti social." It seemed important to Sarah that while she has emphasized her shy nature, she should not be misinterpreted as someone who did not have any friends. As Sarah stated simply, "But I have a lot of friends. I can get along with everyone, as long as they're not obnoxious." [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] The metaphoric language Sarah used to describe these close relationships illustrates how integral they are to her self id entity. Sarah first referred to her best friend Katelyn as someone with whom she is "pretty much joined at the hip." She also discusses her close friendship with two adolescent males, Matthew and Steven. In
! ! 132 describing her relationship with Steven, Sarah emphasized the familial trust she has for him. I've grown up with my friend Steven, and he's like my brother. I couldn't imagine anything without him. I trust him. He's slept over before. My parents trust him enough to, and it's in New JerseyI know h e wouldn't do anything because we're so close together. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Sarah also stated that in order to know who she is one would need to understand the role of art in her life. Not only is it a tool she uses to express her creativity, but also a lens through which Sarah views life and the world around her. I like watercolors the most. Watercolors there's something If you have a piece of paper you can do so much with them. You can use Saran Wrap stuff and you can put salt and then mix different liquids with the watercolors. Then the paint sort of takes on a life of its own. You can have the basic outline of a person there, and then it comes alive because of the things you can do, the way you can do stuff. [initial i nterview transcripts, August 2010] I probed Sarah to elaborate on her response by asking if she paints things that are realistic, and she responded, "No. Some of them are, but most of them aren't." [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] When I prob ed further and asked her why she thought that was so, Sarah shared how her approach to art reflects her world view. Because, I have this weird outlook on life. The world it isn't a realistic place. Since you grow up you hear all these things. I don't know, I don't think there's ever really a solid truth to things. There's always one side of the story and then
! ! 133 the other person's side. I guess no one really knows the truth, so the world's not really realistic. [initial interview transcripts, August 201 0] Music and literature, too, are not only important in knowing Sarah, but in understanding her self identity. Like her art, the music she listens to and the books she reads help her look both inward and outward. The books I read, I kind of think like a b ook nowif that makes any kind of sense. Not third person, but the first person point of view. I think in a book way. You know how people write in a book and they use certain things? I really like thinking like that because it makes the world look diff erent in my mind. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] After stating that she "think(s) like a book," Sarah described herself as a reader. But in elaborating on the self identity statement, Sarah portrayed her sense of being a reader as an identit y extending beyond the vision of the lone individual, curled up in a chair, nose buried in a book. For Sarah, storytelling and narrative structures in books flow from the text world to the real world. Sometimes in class my mind kind of drifts off and I ki nd of describe people in my mindit's sort of a weird habit, but I just start describing people in my mind, like every detail and stuff, like with other words and that. Then I describe scenes and the sounds and like this table may be old and worn, and I t hink back about maybe who made the marks on the table and drew on it, and where it came from and where it was built and what the tree was like before it was chopped down and what the tree how old the tree was and stuff. [initial interview transcripts, Au gust 2010]
! ! 134 I asked Sarah if this meant she created stories from things she's seeing, and she responded that it did. Yeah. I think that's the basic thing of everything. Cause the tree had to grow and it had to see a lot of things on its way to grow up. I t's kind of creating a person within the tree, if that makes sense. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] After sharing this deep love for books and storytelling and her view of the world as not realistic, Sarah revealed her favorite genre of litera ture was teenage romance fiction. She stated her reason in this way: 'Cause the books are so sweet and you do learn stuff from them, depending on the author, you can learn a lot from them, even though they're meant for just teenagers. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Sarah's preference for teen romance fiction extends even within other genre, such as the historical fiction novel, Uprising the book group read during the last half of the book club meetings. During our final interview, Sarah r evealed her favorite character in the novel was Bella because as she stated, "She falls in love, like walking through a doorway." [final interview transcripts, October 2010] In presenting my first impressions of Sarah, information about her background, and the self identity statements she herself has made, I have attempted to lay a foundation. From this foundation, I now refine the focus on the two exploratory questions guiding this study: What elements constitute selected adolescent girls perspectives on identity? W hat influences their self identity expression?
! ! 135 Perceptions of Identity Identity as a sociocultural construct. Sarah's statements about identity are consistent with a sociocultural perspective in which identities are both constructed and expr essed in various social environments. In the initial interview, Sarah's first self identity statement was that she is shy. She elaborated on her response, though, and provided a sociocultural context expression of this identity. I guess it depends on who I'm around, but like most of the time, I'm super shy. To the point where I can't really talk and then I get better once I get to know the people and then I'm justI don't know [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Sarah's perception of enviro nmental factors contributing to self identity expression extends beyond her own ability or inability to be herself. Sarah sees, for example, that others are affected by group size and therefore group dynamics. What at first seemed to be Sarah vacillating between identifying the individuals at her former school as both the reason for her leaving ("I didn't really like the people there" and "They were really immature") and people who treated her well ("They were really nice peopleThey were all genuinely ni ce"), is evidence of Sarah's ability to discern the sociocultural nature of identity as expression both dependent upon and contributing to the social environment. When Sarah stated why she left the college preparatory school, she indicated it was the non conducive environment and not the individuals themselves leading to her departure. They (her peers at the private school) tried really hard to I just got they're very different one on one from when they're in a group. Most of the people here are really nice. I mean, I hear things that are horrible, that I couldn't imagine
! ! 136 these girls doing, but most of the people here in this environment, they've been really sweet to me. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] In this way, Sarah separated identiti es expressed in intimate, "one on one" environments with those performed in concert with others. According to Sarah, even in these intimate environments there often exists a mismatch between what individuals perceive as their expressed self identity and how it is perceived by others. This mismatch has occurred so often for Sarah, she has appropriated the label attached by others who misinterpret her desire to be a listener as being shy. And while Sarah acknowledges she often feels uncomfortable in soci al settings behavior which can be perceived as being shy Sarah by her own self identity statements and actions in the book club indicated that in conducive environments she is indeed a listener. Sarah sees this mismatch extending to a misperception of identity based on physical appearance. Like, a lot of people think that if a girl's pretty she can't do a lot of stuff. I mean, I have friends who think that, too. Just because they are really pretty means they aren't intelligent or something like tha t. If they wear make up they're like a slut or something if they wear a lot of it, but it's not necessarily true [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Sarah's statements reflect that she, too, engages in this type of inaccurate perception of oth ers' identities specifically, other females. I just see everyone, and I know this sounds really bad, but they all kind of look the same. They're not all the same people of course, if I got to know them, I'd know the distinct differences, but I see girls and they've all got super long hair,
! ! 137 and it's either straight or curly and they all have like a ton of makeup on. And so they al l kind of look the same to me. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Identity in the text world Sarah's perception of this identity mismatch based on physical appearance is reflected in the discussion of the romantic relationship central to The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks and is the catalyst for Sarah's dislike of the female protagonist Frankie and her boyfriend Matthew. Sarah stated, "What really bugs me is that he didn't notice her for her, he noticed her for how she looked at the beginning of the year." [discussion transcripts, September 2010] Throughout the book, Matthew's perception of Frankie is c onstructed solely on the basis of Frankie's physical attributes until her actions become so outrageous that even the clueless Matthew cannot ignore them. This intentional challenge of Frankie's to the world's perception of her identity as meek and mild (or "bunny rabbit" as she is called by her family) to be replaced by a fierce challenger and rule breaker, further aggravated Sarah who was insistent that in the real world and the text world, individuals should perform only their true identity. And I don' t know who they were talking about, but I heard this one girl and supposedly she goes up to this guy and starts saying that she has drugs so he'll like her and stuff. And I just want to talk to her and be like, why would you ever want someone to think you have drugs? Because last year at school people thought I was on drugs because I was all quiet and listened to music and it kind of sucks because you don't want people to think you're on drugs cause thenA lot of people think I'm on drugs because some of my friends are. [discussion transcripts, August 2010]
! ! 138 Through Frankie, Sarah further emphasized her perception of self identity expression as being the quality of an independent person. So while Sarah viewed identity as a sociocultural construct, she esc hewed those whose identity expression is intentionally created based on others. Sarah reflected this perspective when speaking about Frankie's expression of a new sense of self. I don't know, she doesn't seem independent to me. She seems dependent on att ention. She may be her own person, but if she didn't have all this attention, she wouldn't be who she is now. Like, if she wasn't going out with Matthew, she wouldn't be who she is nowand that's not being independent. [discussion transcript, September 2 010] Frankie therefore enabled Sarah to state her definition of an independent female and to reflect her own self identity. In Chapter One, I stated the definition of gender used in this study was an anthropological, not biological view in which gender is something you do, not something you are. This definition is in keeping with the sociocultural view of identity that is foundational to the study. Sarah's perception of gender identity lies somewhere between the anthropological and biological perspectives During a discussion of Frankie Landau Banks I read from the text to help stimulate a discussion on gender identity. "Because once you say women are one way, and men are another, and say that's how it is in other species so that's gotta be how it is in people, then even if it's somewhat true even if it's quite a bit true you're setting yourself up to make all kinds of assumptions that actually really suck. Like, women tend to cooperate with each other and therefore don't have enough competitive dri ve to run major
! ! 139 companies or lead army squadrons. Or men inherently are unfaithful because they want to propagate their seed. Assumptions like these do nothing but cause problems in the world [discussion transcripts citing Lockhart, 2008, p. 162 Septembe r 2010] I then asked the girls to share their reactions to this selection. Sarah was the first to respond. Well, males have similar characteristics and female have similar characteristics because they're different species, but of the sameso yeah, they're going to have some different things, but they're going to have a lot more similar things with their own gender, but it doesn't mean they can't have similar things with the other gender or different things. [discussion transcripts, September 2010] Sarah's response is in keeping with similar statements expressing her perception of gender identity as not tied to rigid biologically determined expression. On numerous occasions, Sarah presented a relaxed, fluid anthropological view of gender identity expression She frequently stated how boys can make great friends as well as boyfriends, speaking specifically of her close friendship with Steven and Matthew. In her statements regarding romantic relationships, Sarah continued to emphasize expression and perce ption of self identity often being at odds with one another. Referring to Matthew, in Frankie Landau Banks Sarah stated, "He likes the thought of a girlfriend, but he doesn't actually know her enough to love her" [discussion transcripts, September 2010]. True love, according to Sarah, can only exist when one partner accurately perceives the self identity of the other.
! ! 140 Echoing her views on the character Frankie's relationship with Mathew in Frankie Landau Banks ("She's whipped; she's completely whipped" [discussion transcripts, September 2010]) Sarah expressed disdain for what she sees as real life adolescent females' male centered identity expression. I mean, there are people I know who are just hormone driven. I tried to be friends with them and all t hey talk about is boys and all the guys talk about is girls and then it's all about what are you doing tonight and why don't we do this and blah, blah, blahand it's like, can't we just talk? It's annoying because there are people like that and they kind of give people my age a bad name. The majority of girls my age are like that. They're all, well I want a boyfriend; it'll make me feel a lot better. [discussion transcripts, September 2010] In contrast, Sarah emphasized mutual respect both among the part ners in the relationship as well as one another's friends. Again, Sarah uses the character Frankie to share her perspective with members of the book club. If that was me, if those were my boyfriend's friends, I wouldn't want to spend time with them if the y didn't respect me. What's the point? I wouldn't really care to be accepted by his friends if they didn't respect me. Like, that wouldn't matter to me. I mean, they're not my friends and if they don't respect me then I wouldn't really care [discussio n transcripts, September 2010] Identity as developmental In viewing identity as socially situated, the environment of the particular social world plays a significant role as individuals explore, develop, and express their self identity. For Sarah, ind ividuals are the focus of environmental factors in which she is either able or unable to express her self identity.
! ! 141 Both in attitude (accepting and open) and in number (small), individuals themselves are the sociocultural context according to Sarah. Influ ences on Sarah's Self Identity E xpression Physical attributes of the social environment. Sarah consistently emphasized how much more comfortable she feels in small groups rather than large ones. In outside of school activities, Sarah is more likely to sp end time alone or with one or two of her close friends. Although she has many friends, she spends time with them in small groups. In trying to identify the reasons she felt so comfortable participating in the book club discussions, Sarah stated simply, Maybe it was the small number in the group." [final interview transcripts, October 2010] Her further statements comparing the book club discussions with those held in the classroom confirmed that for Sarah, size is critical in determining an environment c onducive to her self identity expression, an environment in which she can truly be herself. Following her statement about the small number in the book group, Sarah added, "I could talk to the people in the book club more." [final interview transcripts, Oc tober 2010] Yet Sarah emphasized that small size alone does not ensure a group environment conducive to self identity expression. I think the size was really nice cause everyone was able to get their chance to speak and there wasn't too little and there wasn't too many. But I don't think it's going to affect how the people talk because I've been one on one with certain girls, and I can't talk to them at all. I'm just uncomfortable with them. [final interview transcripts, October 2010]
! ! 142 Sarah's comment i ndicates her perspective is one in which environmental factors are interconnected and operate together to create an atmosphere Sarah used the word "comfortable" in which self identities can be expressed by the individual and also interpreted accurately by those within the environment. Attitudinal attributes of the social environment During the initial interview, I asked each of the girls the same question to understand their perspectives on the environmental factors that determine expression of their self identities. I asked, "Could you describe a situation where you can be yourself?" In response, Sarah described the small town in New Jersey where she spends part of her summer. Immediately, she focused on the people in the small town stating, "I thin k I can be myself around them because they're so open and accepting and they'll listen to you and they'll talk to you" [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] This environment contrasts with the statements Sarah made about her former school experienc e in which she was part of what she referred to as the "outcasty" group. According to Sarah, her choice in music and dress as well as her quiet demeanor were outside the group norms at the school and therefore unacceptable. Sarah's statement also indicat es that within an environment in which the individuals are open and accepting, her voice, both metaphorically and literally is heard. Sarah's use of the words "open" and "accepting" prompted me to probe further by asking if the opposite is true for other environments those which are non conducive to her self identity expression. I asked Sarah if rather than being "open" and "accepting," the people at her present school want her to be a certain way.
! ! 143 It's not that they want you to be a certain way, like, I just see everyone, and I know this sounds really bad, but they all kind of look the same. They're not all the same people of course, if I got to know them, I'd know the distinct difference, but I see girls and they've all got super long hair, and it's e ither straight or curly and they all have like a ton of make up on. And so they all kind of look the same to me. And the people I know in New Jerseythey're so different from each other. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] For Sarah, physical sa meness contributes to a sense of a restrictive environment in which she feels she cannot express her own self identity. While acknowledging that if she got to know them as individuals she would likely perceive the variety of their individual identities, b ut still maintained the physical expression was of sameness a group determined sameness that for Sarah restricts expression of those unique self identities. The Second Case: Bianca Bianca I'm a tree hugger I think outside the box Impulsive Do things Say things Unafraid Don't care what people think Honestly I'm a good debater Often reading the same books Over and Over Fantasy books Room for opportunity Different ways to perceive it
! ! 144 The female population Desires to be perceived in a certai n way The American Dream I want to save the rainforest [Found data poem from initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Meeting Bianca from my researcher reflective journal. Bianca could pass as a much younger girl, physically. Small, tiny physique, Bia nca arrives at the initial interview dressed in jeans and a top combination that will prove to be her trademark ensemble for the duration of the book club meetings: long sleeved shirt underneath (beige today), bright blue t shirt layered on top (with some kind of advertising in the left hand corner). Bianca has light brown hair pulled back into a loose, no nonsense pony tail. Blue eyes, no makeup. Loquacious and animated, Bianca leaves no doubt in my mind she will be a valuable contributor to the book c lub discussions. My confidence in her in this regard is established prior to this first meeting, though. I have been told repeatedly by teachers at the school: "You have to get Bianca to join your book club." They describe her as bright and articulate. As one teacher told me, "If you want talkers, she's your girl." Bianca is my first interviewee and any doubts I may have had about the girls feeling comfortable enough to share their perspectives with me are quickly dispelled. Bianca responds to each of my questions quickly and with elaborate detail. At the end of the hour interview time, I switch off the digital recorder and breathe a sigh of relief. If all else fails, I know I could write a single case study just on the data I could get from Bianca. I am confident she will contribute to the discussions. Where Sarah is shy, Bianca is outgoing to the extreme. So much so that I worry I will somehow need to curtail her outlandish behavior, and be required to play an authoritative role, something I
! ! 145 am lo ath to do. I think about the texts I've read by other researchers who've worked with minors. I wonder: How do I balance my desire as a researcher to allow the data to emerge from each girl free from the influence of the presence of an adult? Can I reall y allow a study participant to dangle from a tree branch? I want this to be a space where every girl's voice can be heard. Can I sit back and let Bianca dominate the discussions? Ever at the forefront of my mind is that the girls will see me as a teache r at the school and not feel comfortable to share their perspectives. [researcher reflective journal, August 2010] Background on Bianca Bianca lives with her mother, father and two younger siblings in the same upper middle class beach community as Sara h. As the oldest, Bianca often plays a mentor/authority figure role with her younger brother and sister. I usually have to babysit my brother and sister. I get tolike if my mom's not home, I make all the decisions. And sometimes if they can't find my m om they come to me and ask if they can do something. And I say, "I don't know, tell mom." And they're like, "I can't find mom." And I'm like, well, do something about it. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] I asked Bianca how she felt about bei ng the oldest. It's good sometimes because I can help them with their homework and stuff. My mom's like, I haven't been in fifth grade in so long, I can't do this. So I get to help them with that kind of stuff. Sometimes they whine at me when I'm enfo rcing my mother's rules. They go, "Butbut" And I'm like, "That's what mom said, now go to bed." [initial interview transcripts, August 2010]
! ! 146 With her own activities and those her younger brother and sister engage in, Bianca's life is active. I asked Bi anca what life was like for her now. Very busy. I teach kids martial arts for about five hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My brother has baseball practices, and his games go on for hours. I have two siblings: a brother and a sister. My brother's off the wall crazy and my sister is an eight year old so that's enough said right there. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Like Sarah, this is Bianca's first year at Gulfside Fundamental Middle School. Like Sarah, Bianca previously attended an e lite private school on the other side of town (although not the same school as Sarah). Bianca described the school social environment as filled with cliques, and I asked her if this was the case in her present school. Well, not at this school so much cau se there's like, 300 kids in each grade, but I went to a small school and I saw a lot of that, you know, specific groups "Oh, they're losers; they're cool" whatever. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] I encouraged Bianca to further elaborate on her response about the environment in her current school by asking, "You don't see specific groups at Gulfside, but you did at your smaller, private school?" Not as much (here). Maybe a little, but I'm not part of it. I think it makes sense because everyone knows each other better (at the small school). Cause I don't know half the kids at this school. I don't know half the kids in my grade. At my old school I knew ever single person in the grade. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010]
! ! 147 Se lf identity statements. Bianca immediately responded to my opening question in the initial interview, "How would you describe yourself?" by stating, "I'm a tree hugger." For Bianca, this identity includes being a challenger to the status quo and thinking outside the box. Bianca described her love of current events discussions in her marine science class and revealed another aspect of her self identity: a debater. These aspects of her self identity come together in her favorite class at school the plac e she identified as where she could completely be herself: marine science class. Like I said before, I'm kind of a tree hugger, environmental person, so whenever I'm in marine science talking about a current issue or something like that basically I'll s ay, well, why can't they do this and why can't they do that? Like for instance, we were talking about off shore drilling off the coast of Florida and people were saying oh that's so good, we'll get oil, but it'll kill our tourism industry cause our beach es will get all messed up. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Bianca's self identity as an environmentalist extends back to her early childhood years. She stated to me during the individual interview and on two other occasions to the book club me mbers that she has known she wanted to live in a rainforest and work for their preservation since she was in second grade. In this way, being an environmentalist is both a career she hopes to pursue, and part of her self identity. When asked what someone would need to understand to truly know her, Bianca's response indicated her sense of an independent selfhood as well as a keen awareness of how others often react to her independence of thought and action: "I'm impulsive and I
! ! 148 do thingsI'm not afraid to s ay things and I don't care about what people think honestly. I really don't care." [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Bianca identified herself as a reader, but her tone of voice in making this self identity statement indicated a nonchalant a ttitude until she began to talk passionately about certain books: fantasy series books including The Hunger Games Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Gregor the Overlander. These favorite books are ones Bianca reads "over and over again" because, as she stated simply: "I like them." [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Perceptions of Identity Identity as a sociocultural construct During the initial interview I asked Bianca if she thought it would matter if we had boys participating in the book club. Bianca's response to this and subsequent follow up questions indicated her perspective on identity especially female gender identity is socially constructed and expressed. It depends on the book. If it was a romance novel obviously the boy s are going to be yawn, get over it. And if it's a book about guns or something probably girls wouldn't be as interested. That's my theory. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] I encouraged Bianca to elaborate by asking her to tell me more. I thi nk it would be different. The maturity level of boys and girls differ. We did this quiz thing in language arts where it was like, what kind of learner are youand many girls got intrapersonal and many boys got something about using their hands. Most of the girls got interpersonal cause social life is very, very important to girls. You can watch a classroom or like, say, a pre kindergarten. I remember when my sister was in pre kindergarten and there was already a pecking order with the girlsThe boys w ere
! ! 149 just standing there going "what?" and the girls are already figuring out what's going on. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] When I probed and asked Bianca where she thought this comes from, she replied, "I don't know. I think they did thems elves." While Bianca first emphasized the role of individuals who make up the sociocultural context, she later pointed to the influence of the greater society on establishing gender roles especially for females. There are more definitive standards for girls. And for boys it's likehmm(pauses)maybewell, my sister used to do Brownies and so their thing was some of the boys would chase after them because they were brownies and they wanted to eat them (we both giggle). I'm seriousmy sister was 5 year s old at the time and so she's like, oh, Jake is so silly, but Will is cool, and Conner's cool, but I bet the boys were all friends. But the girls were all I don't knowI don't know why, but girls just seem to be moremaybe it has to do with appearance. Cause you know, boys will just roll in the mud, but Georgia, I remember when she was little she had to dress herself and she would be wearing ski pants and a bikini top and she would be all, "I am fashionable today." So maybe it has to do with the fact that she wants to make herself known and make herself presentable and I think it's how modern society perceives females. There's more pressure to be the prettiest, I guess. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Bianca used the popular teen movie, Mean Girls to illustrate her point and I asked her if she thought movies like this accurately reflect what goes on in the real world.
! ! 150 On some level they do. It's a typical way females are viewed. Which is the stigma that attaches to females as having m oreyou knowyou never see boys having a ton of pressure to have just the right hair or wear the right clothes. It mostly applies to females. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] I then asked Bianca if she thought boys have any similar kind of pre ssure. Well, it's absolutely there on some level. But not nearly the same as for girls. Boys define themselves through sports. At least in youth. Whoever's the best baseball player [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] When I asked about boys who are not athletic or don't like sports, Bianca stated, "Then you pretend that you are. Or you be really funny. That's my theory." Bianca later returned to the topic of Mean Girls and I asked her once again if she thought this 2004 movie portrays reality for today's teen girls. Yeah. Because like I said, the female population desires to be perceived in a specific way. Like say for example, the American Dream. The red blooded American family with the breadwinner man and the mom in the apron and the two little kids hugging dad's legs saying, "Daddy, you're home!" And the three bedroom family house in a quiet little neighborhood. The American Dream. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Identity in the text world Like Sa rah, the romantic relationship between the female protagonist Frankie and her boyfriend Matthew provided Bianca the opportunity to share her perspective that there often exists a mismatch between what an individual defines as his or her self identity and o thers' perception of the self identity. When Sarah stated,
! ! 151 "He (Matthew) likes the thought of a girlfriend, but he doesn't actually know her enough to love her." Bianca responded, "He doesn't know the true her. He knows part of her, but he doesn't know the true her." [discussion transcripts, September 2010] Self identity is therefore not only an expression by the individual, but a perception by those who encounter the individual. According to Bianca, the process of expression and reception/perception i s not always identical. During one of the book club discussions, Bianca expressed a sociocultural perspective alluding to possible reasons for this mismatch. The girls were discussing a section of the book Uprising in which the shirtwaist factory workers on strike shove prostitutes standing near the picket line into a group of billy club wielding police officers. A discussion of prostitution was then followed by comments about the class system presented in the text. After the group veered far away from t his topic to the subject of an upcoming dance, Bianca brought everyone back to the text by sharing her own perspective on social stratification. I don't think the world is split into two or three groups. I think it's an entire palette of color and someon e just took and mushed it all together and there are some people who want to say this is what's right and this is what's wrong, but I don't think so. [discussion transcripts, September 2010] While Bianca's self identity statements portray an image of a fem inist empowered, independent, expressing her viewpoints openly, she used the text Frankie Landau Banks to express her perception that this is not the case with all females. During one of the book discussions, Bianca shared with the group a passage she d escribed as a "revelation."
! ! 152 When she is met with silence from the group following her impassioned reading, Bianca persevered in attempting to get the other girls to react with equal passion. Well, remember at the end of the chapter it says there are some girls that go and do homey things, like Trish, and there are some girls who just sit there and go "Ack," and then there are the other girls that just totally throw themselves into it, but Frankie was saying how she could do it better. That's the female th inking that is bringing us into the 22 nd century. I say 22 nd because women are still generally seen as homemakers [discussion transcripts, August 2010] Bianca's self identity statements of being independent, impulsive, and thinking outside of the box are reflected in her view of how the character Frankie ( Frankie Landau Banks ) challenges the old guard, male establishment at her private school. Bianca selected a passage from the text in which this is particularly evident, surprised when the other girls di d not react or respond. Bianca: Am I the only one who realized that total revelation? All: Yes. Bianca: Okay, what that's saying is that if she really had a lot of respect for these men she would have been going (makes swooning sound). But what she's s aying is that you are uppity and self righteous and rich and I'm going to stick my tongue at you because you're just glowering at me from a picture on the wall and you're not real. She doesn't want to be viewed as a bunny rabbit, she wants to be viewed as a threat, as a genuine person and if she'd been (said in a sugary sweet voice) nice and sweet that would have been counterproductive. By doing it this way
! ! 153 she's saying, "World, I am Bad! And you can't stop me!" [discussion transcripts, August 2010] When Sarah continued to maintain that Frankie was misguided in both her perception of independence and feminist empowerment and the best way to gain these and have others see you expressing these qualities, Bianca agreed only slightly with Sarah that craving at tention is not being independent. For Bianca, Frankie's means amply justified her individual and societal ends. Well, I mean no doubt, but if in the process she brings attention to some major feminism issues in the world, is it really such a bad thing? I f in the process she can show the world that females can be a force to be reckoned with, is it really such a bad thing? [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Identity as developmental The outrageous actions of the central character Frankie in Fra nkie Landau Banks became the catalyst for sparking heated debates between the girls and provided a medium through which they further expressed both their own self identities and their perspectives on identity in general. As Frankie sets out on a path of t ransforming herself from a self and family described "bunny rabbit" to what she sees as an empowered and powerful individual, Bianca noted this transformational process and connected it to a deeper sense of self identity as a developing process. .okay, th e fact that she gave up Latin and started studying the panoptic o n and all that shows that she is developing her own sense of self, plus the fact that she's already gone through a year at that place and she's a sophomore now and she's starting to get some i ndependent thinking going and she's starting to discover her
! ! 154 own person and with that comes her mental explosion [discussion transcripts, September 2010] Bianca observed a similar process occurring in the popular YA novel, Twilight While she was decided ly critical of the main character, Bella, for her inability to "know what she wants," Bianca's perspective on identity as a developmental process is evident once again in her remarks about Bella's growth. At the end of the book, when Bella gains immortalit y, she starts to become her own person. I remember in the book when she says I can finally become a full participant in the Cullen Family. At the end of the book she does in fact gain her own independence. [discussion transcripts, September 2010] Influen ces on Bianca's S elf I dentity E xpression Physical attributes of the social environment My first question to Bianca in the final interview was: "How would you describe your experiences participating in an all girls after school book club?" Bianca respon ded positively and indicated the atmosphere of the book club was conducive to her self identity expression. I thought it was really fun. I kind of got to express a lot of my opinions (and I have a lot of opinions), and I'm also a big debater, so I really l iked debating with the other girls on our viewpoints and winning. I like to win. It's one of my favorite things winning. [final interview transcripts, October 2010] I probed Bianca to elaborate on this idea of the multiple perspectives in the book club and what kind of an environment this created for her. Her semi kidding tone aside, Bianca remained consistent in expressing her perspective that the multiple perspectives in the book club provided her with an adversarial opportunity, similar to the envir onment
! ! 155 during current events debates in marine science class she described during the initial interviews. Yeah, I just enjoyed hearing their viewpoints, too, because you know, it's good to know about the world around you and what other people are thinking. Because not necessarily everything you have to say is right. I'm talking about this hypothetically since I know I'm always right. No, I'm just kidding. [final interview transcripts, October 2010] When asked what could have made the book club even bette r, Bianca continued to focus on the benefit of multiple perspectives. Maybe if there were more girls there, people would have the opportunity to have more opinions. I believe in the more the merrier and whatever. And so if you want to get the right answe r, you have to have a bunch of people collaborate on what they think is right. And then you figure out from there. The more people you have, the more different, interesting, unique viewpoints you're going to have on how they perceived the book. So you c an get more information. [final interview transcripts, October 2010] Bianca then extended her discussion of the value of multiple perspectives from the book club participants to the book Uprising stating, "That's what made that book interesting the one w e just read. They have three different girls with three completely different goals and stuff." [final interview transcripts, October 2010] Attitudinal attributes of the social environment Bianca shared in the initial interview her preference for readin g fantasy novels, and her disdain for realistic fiction. In doing so, Bianca reflected her need to be part of an environment that provides her with
! ! 156 space to express her self identity. Bianca repeatedly employed the term "room for opportunity" to describe the environment most conducive to her self identity expression and found within the open spaces and pages of fantasy novels. As a proficient reader, Bianca enters the text world as herself, not merely as a passive reader. In talking about this world of fantasy novels, she described the text environment both as a place where plot events happen ("bats underground"), and in which the reader is an active participant ("you can do anything"). [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] The Third Case: Lacey Lacey Outgoing, intelligent My dad: He's the one who raised me I have guy tendencies I'm not like other girls I'm tough What's important? My totem pole: School Girlfriend Friend Family I'm not really close to my family My friends are like my family [ Found data poem from initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Meeting Lacey from my researcher reflective j ournal Long, blonde hair, blue eyes Lacey arrived at the first book discussion meeting dressed similarly to when we met for the initial inter views, wearing jeans and a low cut, emerald green top. During the discussion, Lacey commented on her physical strength, and I can see her toned arms. Lacey is outgoing and speaks easily with the other girls just as she did when with me. I was concerned that Sarah was constantly interrupted by Bianca, who took center stage
! ! 157 and engaged her friends in quasi discussions (small talk mostly to fuel Bianca's fire). Although I sat next to Sarah so that I could turn to her and ask her to repeat/elaborate on what she'd try to say to the group, I worried doing so would make Sarah feel awkward like she needed an adult to stick up for her. Ownership of the book club needed to be in the girls' hands, not mine. Soon, though, Lacey took up the position of supporting Sarah as a full participant in the book club discussions. Without drawing attention to Sarah, Lacey spoke directly to Bianca about her dominating position, and then turned her body toward Sarah and made eye contact silently communicating that Sarah now has the space in which to talk to the group. Lacey showed a mastery of how to address such domination while supporting and maintaining the positive atmosphere within the group. Later, as Lacey and I walked back toward her father's waiting car, I remark a bout what great comments Sarah made during the discussion, and Lacey brought up the topic of Bianca confirming my observation of her process in aiding Sarah. Lacey told me: "I had to get her (Bianca) to stop talking so Sarah could say something. I'm t hat kind of person who does that with my friends." [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Background on Lacey Lacey has attended Gulfside Fundamental Middle School since the sixth grade unlike the other four girls in the book club who are new to the school. Lacey is an only child and lives with her father, who has raised her since she was five. Her mother lives in Seattle. Lacey mentions her mother only once, stating that she talks to her on the phone "occasionally." I asked Lacey what it's lik e to be raised by a single dad and she responded, "It's not as weird as most people think, but there's always females in my life who are kind of like mother figures, but not really." [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] During the initial intervie w when I asked Lacey what someone
! ! 158 would need to know in order to understand her, Lacey responded they would need to know her father. First, we kind of look like each other because he's my dad. And then, like, I have a lot of guy tendencies because I was r aised by only a man. So there's certain things, like I'm really tough. Like, I'm not like most girls. I mean, I like to go get my nails done, don't get me wrong, but I'm not going to cry if I break a nail. Even though it does hurt. [initial interview t ranscripts, August 2010] I asked Lacey to tell me more about her father. He's not very outgoing, which is one thing that we don't have in common, but he's very smart in math and science like I am. He has a little bit of a temper, and I noticed lately that when he gets mad and stuff, well like when I get mad I do the same things that he does. And I think that's a learned behavior. Like he likes to throw things or kick things or slam things and that's what I do. I don't get mad that often, though. [initia l interview transcripts, August 2010] While Lacey stated knowing her father is essential to knowing her, when I asked what's important to her in her life she responded by sharing her idea of a totem pole that represents her hierarchical ranking of the sign ificant aspects to her life. My friends. My girlfriend. School. School's like number one. I have this thing called a totem pole, and school is number one, and then comes my girlfriend, and then comes my friends, and then comes my family. Because I'm n ot really that close with my family. My friends are like my family. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010]
! ! 159 In the final interview, Lacey mentioned how getting to know Sarah was one of the best parts of being involved in the book club and indicated S arah was similar to her circle of school friends. Like a real person. There's nothing covering it up, she's just going to let it out. That's the type of people I hang out with. And I call my lunch table the real table because there's the preppy people I know it sounds really clich, but that's really how it is. And there's the preppy guy and the preppy girl. And there's the nerdy kids. And then there's the smart, cool kids. And then there's my table, and we're the real people, like we'll tell you s traight out. And usually we're not mean about it, but we're going to tell you the truth. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] During the last book club meeting, too, the girls began talking about friendships and Lacey shared with the group how the merging of the two schools and subsequent change in student body has had a significant effect on her. I don't have as many friends as I used to. I've been really closed off this year compared to last year, because last year I knew like everybody Like I knew every single person in the whole grade and most everyone in the other grades. So I was like really, really popular. And then this year it kind of changed because I didn't know many people because most of them left [discussion transcripts, October 2010] Self identity s tatements When I began the initial interview by asking Lacey how she would describe herself, she responded, "Outgoing. Intelligent. That's the two main
! ! 160 things." Later, during one of the book discussions, Lacey added, "I'm a very lou d, outspoken, opinionated person." [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Later on during the first interview, Lacey and I talked about adolescence and how some people view it as a time of "storm and turmoil." Lacey disagreed with this view. I don' t know. I don't think there's really turmoil. They kind of over exaggerate it, but everyone goes through those times. Just because you're trying to figure out yourself and stuff. And it's a lot about self discovery and becoming intrapersonal, trying to get to know yourself instead of knowing other people. Because I'm very interpersonal, not so much intrapersonal. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Often using the term "girl power," Lacey also self identified as an empowered female. I'm reall y into female empowerment, like I'm all for it. Because I think women are looked upon as not as strong as men or not as good as men and I think that we are just better. Because we can do everything guys can do with all the other added female stuff we hav e to deal with. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] When I asked her what she meant by "added female stuff" Lacey responded, "PMS, heels, dresses, looking good all the time or trying toWe have all the normal stuff added with more." [initial inter view transcripts, August 2010] Lacey's physical strength is also part of her self identity. During one of the book discussions the talk centered on physical and emotional strength and gender stereotypes. After one of the girls stated she once had a male friend who cried easily "right in front of
! ! 161 you," Lacey responded by sharing a perspective of herself and her relationships with males. None of my guy friends cry in front of me. I don't know why, I guess it's cause I'm a really, really strong person, ph ysically, so all the guys treat me kind of like the guys. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] While seeing herself as a physically strong, empowered female, Lacey also stated her self identity as a "people pleaser." During a discussion of Frankie Landau Banks Bianca and Sarah applaud the character Frankie for being seemingly unaffected when peers hurl insults at her. Lacey revealed this is not the case with her. I guess I'm kind of opposite because even when people I don't like call me mean name s it affects me. It always has. Because I guess I'm like a people pleaser and I worry about what other people think about me. I don't know why. It's just something I've always done. [discussion transcripts, September 2010] Perceptions of identity Data detailing Lacey's home, school, and family background and her self identity statements provide a context. The next step is to refine the focus of the data by answering the two exploratory questions. In presenting data indicating what elements constitute Lacey's perspective on identity, I have organized the section based on coding categories that emerged during data analysis. Identity as a sociocultural construct My first question during the individual final interviews was for the participants to desc ribe their experiences participating in the book club. Lacey's response reflected her belief in the power and importance of others' perspectives.
! ! 162 It was definitely interesting with all the different people because I got to look at all the different other people's perspectives of things. Because sometimes it's humbling, sort of, to listen to what other people have to say and how they view things. It's enlightening, also, to not just know what's in my head, but to know what's in other people's [final inte rview transcripts, October 2010] I asked Lacey to tell me what she meant by "humbling." Because sometimes people, myself included, get a little, I guess, conceited about certain things or have a strong opinion about some things and stuff like that. And h earing what other people have to say teaches you [final interview transcripts, October 2010] Again, I encouraged Lacey to elaborate on her response by asking her what she meant by "teaches." Teaches you how other people think and how others view you, how others view others, how they view the world. And maybe that's not something you thought of. It puts you in your place, maybe. Maybe if you had a wrong opinion. Not a wrong opinion, opinions can't be wrong, but like an unfirm opinion. Which, the way yo u viewed it was wrong, morally [final interview transcripts, October 2010] In the final interview, Lacey stated that a favorite aspect of the book club experience for her was sharing a feminist identity with other girls. I like knowing that I'm not the on ly one who believes in empowering females because, still, now women aren't viewed some women aren't viewed the way men are. As important or smart maybe even. So I liked knowing that I'm not the only one. In my opinion, like, everyone else in the book club, there's only two
! ! 163 other people who didn't really, I don't know, they're not as adamant about female empowerment, but most everyone else was all about it. [final interview transcripts, October 2010] When I asked Lacey how she determined the two girls w eren't, as she put it, "adamant about female empowerment," she shared her perspective on feminist identity as socially constructed within the social world of a family a perspective consistent with statements made concerning other aspects of identity. On ce again, Lacey sees individuals' identities shaped by all types of social environments even "bad" ones. I mean, I guess, not just that they weren't vocal, cause that was another one, but they just didn't seem as focused on the fact that women are mistr eated. I don't think they're aware of how women are treated still, because they must have a good family. It's not necessarily that other people have bad families, but they have families that accept women in a certain way [final interview transcripts, Oct ober 2010]. Identity in the text world Lacey indicated an awareness of the mismatch often existing between self identity and identity as perceived by others when she and Bianca discussed the character Frankie in Frankie Landau Banks Lacey and Bianca at tempt to share with the group the underlying reason behind Frankie's outrageous actions. Lacey: I think she wants everyone to know how bad she is and that's why she does it. Bianca: On some level, that's her personality. Lacey: She wants to alter how everyone perceives her. [discussion transcripts, September 2010]
! ! 164 Lacey's final comment indicates her perspective that self identity and identity is mutable and dependent upon both the individual expressing identity and those perceiving the individual's ide ntity. During a subsequent discussion of the same book, the girls discussed gender roles as portrayed by the central female protagonist Frankie and her boyfriend, Matthew. To encourage further discussion, I read a selection from the text. "Because once yo u say women are one way, and men are another, and say that's how it is in other species so that's gotta be how it is in people, then even if it's somewhat true even if it's quite a bit true you're setting yourself up to make all kinds of assumptions th at actually really suck. Like, women tend to cooperate with each other and therefore don't have enough competitive drive to run major companies or lead army squadrons. Or men inherently are unfaithful because they want to propagate their seed. Assumptio ns like these do nothing but cause problems in the world." [discussion transcripts citing Frankie Landau Banks p. 172, September 2010] Lacey is the first to respond by offering a statement about gender stereotypes in general, and then one reflecting a more specific, personal perspective. "It's bad to assume that everyone's the same because no one's the same, everyone's different. And like, why is someone who has short hair sometimes called a dyke just because they have short hair?" [discussion transcripts September 2010] Lacey expressed a strong connection with Frankie, the central female protagonist in Frankie Landau Banks applauding her bold actions. Lacey's statement shifted from approval of Frankie as a person to her actions and finally connecting th ese actions to
! ! 165 Lacey's own feminist perspective. Lacey stated, "I like her. I like it a lot. I don't know; I just have this superiority complex of females over males, so that's just me, but" [discussion transcripts, September 2010] Bianca then offered her own opinion of Frankie and strongly agreed with Lacy, but Sarah disagreed with both of their appraisals of Frankie and her actions. Lacey maintained her stance and further connected with Frankie's actions and self identity when she stated, "Oh, I thin k it sounds great, sitting around all scheming and planning and plotting things. I'm so that kind of person." [discussion transcripts, September 2010] The text Uprising offered Lacey further opportunities to connect with characters through a sense of shar ed self identity. As she stated in the initial interview, school is important to Lacey. While Bianca later briefly persuaded her to feel otherwise, Lacey initially perceived the character Jane in a positive light through a shared self identity of being education focused. Lacey stated, "I wrote (in my journal) that I have a strong connection with Jane, out of all the characters because she has a thirst for knowledge. And it seems like she wants to improve herself." [discussion transcripts, September 20 10] Identity as developmental Lacey's perception of Jane as someone who "wants to improve herself" seemed to tether Lacey to Jane, despite Bianca's persistent persuasion to convince Lacey to dismiss Jane as self centered and ungrateful for her privileged life. Bianca even alluded to conversations the two had outside of the book club meetings in which Bianca continued to work to get Lacey to agree with her about Jane. Despite occasions in which Lacey seemed to begin to go along with Bianca, the connectio n Lacey made with Jane was tenacious. Although very different from the audacious, prank pulling Frankie in Frankie Landau Banks Jane offered Lacey further opportunities to
! ! 166 express her perspective on identity, specifically feminist identity, as a developm ental process. She's (Jane) getting there. She's going toward a goal. She's trying to help herself. I think all of them have a strong goal. But it's different goals, and I think that's why. They're improving for women's rights, in a different way. [di scussion transcripts, October 2010] Following Lacey's statement, the girls continued to discuss Jane and her development when Sarah commented, "She needs to open her mind." Lacey continued to defend Jane, insisting the girls acknowledge the value of Jane having a goal and working toward it. Both of these qualities reflect self identity statements Lacey herself made during the initial interview. Lacey responded to Sarah, "And that's her goal. You see what her goal is? If you guys haven't noticed, she's trying to expand on what she knows." [discussion transcripts, October 2010] The girls evaluated Jane and concluded with positive comments. Following Rachel's statement: "She's not a bad person at all," Lacey shared a personal connection with Jane. Lacey stated, "I can relate to her a lot because I just like the fact that she's trying to help herself because at this point in time there's no one else who's going to help her." [discussion transcripts, October 2010] The discussion then shifted to the characte r Yetta, who was consistently discussed in a positive way. Lacey observed that all of the female characters had someone to support them in their various struggles all except Jane. Lacey stated, "She has to support herself." [discussion transcripts, Oct ober 2010]
! ! 167 Influences on Lacey's self identity e xpression During the initial interview, I asked Lacey the following question: "Help me see a situation where you can really be yourself. Be completely who you are and express what you think and feel. Wha t would that situation be like?" Lacey responded by sharing physical attributes of the environment and attitudinal attributes of individuals in the environment both combining to create a conducive atmosphere where Lacey can express her self identity. I guess I'd be at the beach because that's my favorite place in the world. At the beach or on the boat. Anywhere on the ocean where it's sunny. With my friends or girlfriend. Most definitely not with my father because I do not express my full self around my father. And it would be just talking with them (initial interview transcripts, August 2010). Physical attributes of the social environment As presented in the section describing her background, Lacey spoke about the difficult change the school merge r had on her by significantly decreasing her knowledge of the student body. She stated, Like I knew every single person in the whole grade and most everyone in the other grades. So I was like really, really popular. And then this year it kind of change d because I didn't know many people because most of them left ." [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Combined with her self identity statement of being "outgoing," Lacey clearly expressed that a social environment made up of a large number of indiv iduals can be conducive to her self identity expression. Attitudinal attributes of the social environment After her statement in which Lacey described her ideal environment for self identity expression, I probed her for details about why she felt she cou ld not express her full self around her father. Lacey's response
! ! 168 indicated the primary importance she places in attitudinal attributes of the social environment in expressing her self identity. Because on certain things, if I tell him about certain thin gs he'll take it the wrong way and he won't let me explain it. And then, it's just that thing where you don't want to be yourself around your parent. You just don't tell them everything because you just don't want to tell them. [initial interview transcr ipts, August 2010] In the initial interview, I also asked Lacey if there was anything that kept her from being able to say what she thinks and feels. In her response, Lacey again referred to attitudinal attributes of the social environment as critical to her self identity expression. Other people's perceptions. Like when I talk about that I'm gay. Other people's perceptionseveryone has their own opinions, so that kind of stops me from telling a lot of people because I don't know how they feel so when I first meet people I don't really tell them until I feel them out for how they are. But a lot of times it's people's perceptions of certain things. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] I ask Lacey what she meant, and she further elaborated. Like, some people are really religious so they believe that being a homosexual is against God's will or something like that and that's their belief and I respect everyone else's beliefs, but that's not mine. And I won't tell tem because they might view me diff erently just because of that. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] Lacey stated the next school year she will be attending the high school where her girlfriend currently attends and she's confident the atmosphere will be conducive to her
! ! 169 being able to express her identity as a lesbian. I then asked Lacey if this is because of her girlfriend and who she knows. Yeah. She talks to a lot of people. She's friends with a lot of people. And like, at Oswego it's a lot different there. There's a lot of lesbians and gays and bis and stuff like that, there's a lot of them there. So I think that's another reason why I chose to go there is because those are the type of people who can most relate to me. I'm most comfortable around [initial interview tra nscripts, August 2010] To clarify Lacey's statement I asked her: "Is this because they get it, and you don't have to figure out whether you'll be accepted or not?" Yeah. Sometimes I feel more accepted from my girlfriend's family than I do my own. Becau se I haven't told them. And her family knows, and they love us being together. Because I'm such a good influence. [initial interview transcripts, August 2010] I then asked her if she thought she'd be able to tell her family in the future that she's gay. Eventually. I think I'm going to wait until I'm 18 because that's just the way I should do it because a lot of my family's like, part of my family's religious just one part of it. My Dad and my Mom know and that's pretty much it. [initial interview tra nscripts, August 2010] Like Sarah and Bianca, Lacey was open and articulate in sharing her perspectives during the individual interviews and the weekly book discussions. Highlighting the individual voices of the girls is essential, but not complete in co ming to know them as participants in the book club. Each week during the one hour book club meetings, the girls'
! ! 170 individual voices were expressed both separately and in acts of collaborative reader response. Cross Case Analysis I selected Sarah, Bianca and Lacey as case study participants because they represented different combinations of backgrounds and self identity statements. The resulting data revealed that the selection criteria allowed the identification of three very distinct cases producing d iffering perceptions of identity and the factors that affect self identity expression. While all three of the case study participants attended the same middle school and were enrolled in advanced language arts classes, they differed in their backgrounds and self identity statements. Sarah was new to Gulfside Fundamental Middle School and knew only her two best friends. While living with her mother, father, and younger brother, Sarah expressed a feeling of distance from her family. Feeling left out by dominant social groups at her former school, Sarah joined the book club because she liked reading and hoped to get to know a small group of girls at her new school. The oldest of tight knit family of five, Bianca, too, was new to the school and like Sarah came from a small private school the year before. However, outgoing, gregarious Bianca had a wide circle of friends three of whom were part of the book club. Bianca stated her reasons for joining were a combination of the pragmatic (mom could work an extra hour and pick up all three children at the same time) and the adversarial ("It sounded kinda fun. I like to debate"). Bianca is the only case study participant who stated a preference for a larger group of girls in the book club. As a case study participant, Lacey possesses a number of unique characteristics. Lacey is the only participant raised by a
! ! 171 single parent her father. She is also the only one of the girls who attended Gulfside prior to the current year. Lacey is also the only particip ant who self identified as being gay. Case Study Participant Shared Self Identity Statements Unique Self Identity Statements Bianca Independent Goal Oriented Leader Impulsive Lacey Independent Goal Oriented Outgoing Intelligent Sarah Independent Goal Oriented Shy Artistic/Creative Table 7 : Case Study Participants' Collective/Unique Self Identity Statements Data collected during the initial interviews indicated that all three case study participants self identified as independent and goal oriented (see Table 8). While the girls were unified in the shared perception of themselves as independent and goal oriented, they also expressed self identity statements that set them apart from one another. I selected Bianca, therefore, as she represented adole scent girls who self identify as being leaders and impulsive. I selected Lacey as an adolescent girl who self identified as outgoing and intelligent. Finally, I selected Sarah to represent adolescent girls who self identify as shy and artistic/creative. Participants' Perceptions of I dentit y The first exploratory question I asked addressed the elements constituting selected adolescent girls' perspectives on identity. All three of the case study participants expressed a sociocultural perspective on identit y. Specifically, all three girls shared the view that there often existed a mismatch between how individuals perceive their own self identity as expressed, and how others perceive the expressed identity. In addition, all
! ! 172 three participants shared a persp ective that identity is a developing process. The character Jane in Uprising provided the basis for divisive debate among the girls many of whom vacillated between positive and negative reactions toward her. In the end, the group came together as each participant acknowledged Jane was in the process of developing an empowered identity, just as the character Frankie had experienced in the text The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks Finally, all three case study participants believed socie tal influences played a critical role in shaping both the self identities as seen by individuals and perspectives on identity held by society in general especially gender identity and most notably with females. In individual interviews and during book d iscussions the case study participants discussed how society holds specific perspectives on roles, attitudes, and behaviors deemed appropriate for females. The girls further stated how individuals (primarily females) then shaped their own self identities to align with those societal standards and expectations. Influences on Participants' Self Identity E xpression The second exploratory question I asked addressed the influences on the selected adolescent girls' self identity expression (see Table 8).
! ! 173 Influences on Self Identity Perceptions of Identity Expression Case Study Participant Physical Attributes of Group Attitudinal Attributes of Group Bianca Expression perception Mismatch Identity as developing process Shaped by so ciety Explored & expressed in text world Large Not important Lacey Expression perception mismatch Identity as developing process Shaped by society Explored & expressed in text world Large not critical "Perceptio n" critical Sarah Expression perception mis match Identity as developing process Shaped by society Explored & expressed in text world Small "Open and Accepting" Katie Expression perception mismatch Identity as developing process Shaped by society Explored & expressed in text world Small Accepting Rachel Expression perception mismatch Identity as developing process Shaped by society Explored & expressed in text world Small Open Table 8: P erceptions of Identity and Influences on Self Identity Expression In this second question, the shift moves from the concept of identity as an entity, to self identity or how one perceives ones' own identity and specifically the elements found in environments conducive to expression of that self identity. As unified as the participants were in their perspectives on identity, they were widely divergent in their descriptions of influences on their self identity expression. In the final interview, Bianca expressed only one aspect of the book club that could have made the experience better for her: mor e members. Bianca stated an increased number of participants would have meant more perspectives and an increased opportunity for her to debate those varied perspectives. This vision of a larger group with
! ! 174 multiple perspectives and an atmosphere in which g roup members debated one another mirrors Bianca's response to my question to her in the initial interview: "Describe an environment where you can be yourself." Bianca's response was to describe her marine science classroom a large group of students eng aged (at least during current events) in debates. Bianca's statements reflecting a preference for large groups can be connected to her self identity statements as well. While all of the participants self identified as independent and goal oriented, Bianc a also stated she was both impulsive and a leader. In the small book club in which all five girls shared the leadership role by offering passages to discuss, questions to address, and issues to debate, Bianca could not always express her self identity. A t no time during either of the individual interviews or the eight book club discussions did Bianca state any attitudinal attributes of environments conducive to her self identity expression. For Lacey and Sarah, however, the attitudes of the individuals i n various environments are critical elements in their self identity expression. Lacey indicated she felt comfortable in large groups and spoke about how differently she felt this year at the school with a new student body she did not know well compared wit h last year when she knew nearly everyone in her grade and many in the younger grades as well. Lacey in this way alludes to the importance of knowing the individuals in the group. Physical size of the group was much less important to Lacey than the attit udinal attributes of the group in particular, what Lacey frequently referred to as the "perceptions" of the individuals. Lacey first shared her perspective on the importance of individuals' perceptions during the initial interview when she self identi fied as "gay". Later on during a book discussion, Lacey stated how a fellow student once called her lesbian in a derogatory
! ! 175 way, but Lacey did not use the term to refer to herself. Lacey also frequently joined the other girls in discussing romantic relati onships, relationships she has had with her girlfriend and with males. However, she does not use the term bisexual to describe herself. After this self identity statement, Lacey shared that she does not reveal herself as being lesbian unless she knows th e individuals in the group have perspectives accepting of homosexuality. Lacey stated this is not the case with many members of her extended family who, according to Lacey, hold religious views in which homosexuality is not accepted. Like Lacey, Sarah al so places primary importance on the attitudinal attributes of the group in influencing her ability to express her self identity. Sarah employed the phrase "open and accepting" to describe both the attitudes of individuals and the atmosphere they in turn c reate in environments in which she can "be herself." Unlike both Lacy and Bianca, though, Sarah emphasized small groups were most conducive to her self identity expression. While Bianca would like to have seen more participants in the book club, Sarah fe lt the small size was ideal allowing all girls to have their voices be heard. Sarah described herself as shy especially in groups in which she did not know the other members. Sarah also stated once she got to know the individuals, she was more comfor table and finally able to speak. During the final interview, Sarah shared how participating in the book club had helped her be able to speak up more often in her classes. In this way, participating in a group that reflected both the physical (small) and attitudinal (open and accepting) attributes Sarah stated as positively influencing her ability to express her self identity served as a bridge to her being able to express her self
! ! 176 identity in an environment that reflected physical and attitudinal attribut es that were not conducive to expressing her self identity. Chapter Summary In this chapter, I have presented three participant case studies of adolescent females participating in an after school book club. I have also presented a case study on the book club itself and ended with a cross case analysis I offered background information and self identity statements shared by each of the girls to lay a foundation to address the two exploratory questions: What elements constitute selected adolescent girls' perspectives on identity? What influences their self identity expression? Self identity statements and background information gathered on each of the three case study participants helped shape portraits of adolescent girls whose perspectives on their own i dentities were both convergent and divergent. The same proved true when addressing the two exploratory questions: The participants appeared to hold identical perspectives on identity, yet stated unique, varied perspectives on environmental elements influ encing their self identity expression. Bianca self identified as an independent, goal oriented individual who was also a leader and impulsive. These self identity statements were reflected in Bianca's perspective on an environment in which she could expr ess her self identity. Bianca preferred a large group which held the potential for a wide range of multiple perspectives affording her the opportunity to engage in debate. Bianca made no statements regarding the attitudinal attributes of members of this large group. Like Sarah and Lacey, Bianca's perception of identity reflects a sociocultural perspective. All three case study participants viewed identity as a developing, evolving process highly influenced by
! ! 177 societal standards and expectations especi ally for females. The girls also saw the social environment as affecting identity in the frequent mismatch occurring between what the individual perceives as his or her self identity being expressed and how others in the environment perceive the identity. The participant case studies focused on the issue of identity from the perspective of three individual girls. By including the book club as a case study, I brought those perspectives together and described how the individual perspectives shaped and were shaped by the collaborative group. Supported by participant statements made during the final interview when I asked the girls to reflect on the book club and their experiences participating in it, the book club case study describes a social environment c onducive to self identity expression. Sarah stated in the initial interview she felt she could be herself in small group environments in which individuals were "open and accepting." Even when tension among the participants arose, the group regulated itse lf and restored a sense of community. The wide range of topics discussed provides further evidence of the "open and accepting" atmosphere. Lacey emphasized her need to know individuals in a particular environment held what she termed "perceptions" allowi ng her to freely express her true self, her self identity including the part of her self identity she often hides, being lesbian. While she knew two of the other participants, she did not know the other two and she did not know me, the participant obser ver. And yet during the initial interview, Lacey shared her self identity as "gay" with me and discussed openly her girlfriend and challenges she faces in expressing her true self. On a number of occasions during the book club discussions, Lacey connecte d a romantic situation in the book with her own relationship with her girlfriend. In expressing this aspect of her self identity,
! ! 178 Lacey indicated her sense the book club participants' "perceptions" were accepting ones. Bianca self identified as a leader and a debater. She also self identified as impulsive. Throughout the book club discussions and in both of the individual interviews, Bianca expressed those aspects of her self identity. While Bianca stated she would have liked more participants in the b ook club to give her a greater opportunity to debate, transcripts of the discussions show she debated frequently with members of the group. In the final chapter I provide a more thorough discussion of these individual and collective elements of the book club and the individual participants. I also present implications of this study on classroom teachers' practice, implications for teacher education programs, and suggested areas for future research.
! ! 179 Chapter Five Discussion, Implications, and Recommendations Gleaning knowledge and understanding from a research study involves a recursive process of looking at the past, the present, and the future. In this chapter I begin with a brief summary of the study's purpose, literature review, exploratory questions, and research procedures. I continue with a discussion of the study's results and their place within the current literature. I conclude the chapter with implications for practice and recommendations for further research. The purpose of this study wa s to describe and explain selected a dolescent girls' perceptions of identity through an after school book club Reflecting a growing focus on adolescent literacy as a unique field, the present study's relevance lies not only in su pporting and questioning existing research, but also by contributing to filling gaps in the research. Situated at the intersection of adolescent literacy, adolescent female identity development theory, reader response theory, and sociocultural theory, th is study stands upon historical theories that have become the cornerstones of literacy (Rosenblatt, 1978; 1995) education (Vygotsky, 1978; Langer, 2000; Lewis, Enciso & Moje, 2007), and human development (Erickson, 1963, 1964, 1968, 1986; Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Gilligan, 1982, 1993; Gilligan, Lyons & Hanmer, 1990). Many recognize the need for
! ! 180 research located at the confluence of these theories (Galda and Beach, 2001; Moje & Lewis, 2007) and exploring their relevance today, yet few studies exist heeding t hat call. Two exploratory questions guided the study: 1. What elements constitute selecte d adolescent girls' perceptions of identity through an after school book club? 2. What elements influence their self identity performance? Marshall and Rossman (2011) stat ed, "Qualitative research is pragmatic, interpretive, and grounded in the lived experiences of people" (p. 2). These three tenets of q ualitative research methodology informed all aspects of the study design from data collection to analysis. Individual in terviews, discussion transcripts, researcher reflective journal transcripts, and participant reader response journal transcripts comprised the data collected to address the two exploratory questions. As a feminist researcher, I sought to highlight the oft en silenced voices and perspectives of the adolescent female participants in the study and presented data and analysis through case studies focusing on three of the five book club members and the book club itself. Research found data poems served as an ad ditional method to privilege the participants' voices. Sections of my researcher reflective journal were included in introductory sections of each participant case study to make the ongoing activity of reflexivity transparent to the reader. Finding Mean ing in the Individual C ase In the previous chapter, I focused on fulfilling the first part of this purpose. In presenting data gathered from interviews, discussions, reader response journals, field notes, and a researcher reflective journal, I attempted to describe the experiences of five adolescent females participating in an after school book club. I now turn to the second
! ! 181 part of the purpose, explain the participants' experiences, and offer meaning derived from the explanation. Learning from Sarah Sar ah's experiences in the book club demonstrate the critical role environmental factors play in creating an atmosphere in which a self identified shy individual is able to fully express herself. In the initial interview, Sarah reflected a keen awareness of herself and environments conducive to her self identity expression. She emphasized her self identity as "shy super shy" and stated clearly those environments in which she could be herself were small groups of individuals who were "open and accepting." Sarah was able to make this assessment of the group attitude quickly. During the initial interview, Sarah immediately offered lengthy, rich responses to my questions requiring few instances of prompting for elaboration. At the first book club meeting, in a group comprised of individuals who Sarah knew only slightly as classmates, she contributed readily to the discussion. Both Lacey and I provided initial support for Sarah in having her perspectives clearly heard (and not be dominated by the more outgo ing Bianca), and then throughout the remainder of the first book club meeting and the meetings that followed the support was no longer needed; Sarah not only became one of the most frequent contributors to the discussion, she was also the voice most often attended to by the other book club members. Figure 2 presents a visual representation of Sarah's self identities, the physical and attitudinal elements of the conducive environment in which she is able to express those self identities, and her perceptions of identity.
! ! 182 Figure 2 : Sarah's Perceptions of Identity, Influences on Self Identity Expression, and Self Identity Statements Not only did the book club environment provide Sarah an atmosphere conducive to her self identity a s shy, but it also allowed Sarah to express herself as creative. Sarah shared in the initial interview that she thought "like a book" and perceived the world around her not as black and white, but shades of gray. These self identity statements of Sarah's are evident throughout the book discussions as she shared often contradictory views of the readings with the other participants. "#$%#&'()*+! ),!-.#*'('/ -*,01#*%#+! )*!2#0, 3 -.#*'('/ !45&$#++()* 2#0, 3 -.#*'('/ "#$%&%#$%#'! ()*+ )-.%#'%$! /01 2-%*'.3% /4*++ !5-)6& 7&%#!8! 9::%&'.#5 9''.'6$% ;<&-%==.)# &%-:%&'.)#! 4.=4*':0 >%3%+)&.#5! &-):%== ;<&+)-%$!8! %<&-%==%$!.#! '%<'!?)-+$ /0*&%$! @1! =):.%'1
! ! 183 Sarah also shared in the initial interview that she did not express herself in classroom discussions. Within the classroom en vironment, Sarah said she preferred to listen rather than contribute to the discussions. In the final interview, however, Sarah indicated this was beginning to change due to her participation in the book club. For Sarah, the book club served as a safe pr actice ground for her to express her self identity freely. Receiving positive feedback from the group members who listened intently to her statements, reflecting, building, and valuing these statements, Sarah was able to assume a new identity in group dis cussions. While she continued to listen carefully to other girls' comments, she was most frequently a contributor to the discussions. This new identity, formed and expressed within a sociocultural framework Sarah considered conducive, then became express ed in an environment Sarah considered non conducive the environment of a classroom. In this way, Sarah confirmed Rogoff (1995) who asserted, "People change through transforming their participation in sociocultural activities" (p. 266). Sarah's use of t he conducive environment of the book club as practice ground for a new identity in the non conducive environment of the classroom reflected what Rogoff termed "participatory appropriation" in which individuals are able to successfully engage in later situa tions due to their active participation in a previous situation. Sarah's case therefore not only reveals the ability of adolescents to embrace new self identities, but also their ability to express these self identities in new environments (Rogoff, 1995) Through participation in the book club, Sarah experienced a change in her own perception, intricately connected to others' perceptions (Tatum, 1997) those of the girls in the book club. Sarah stated in the final interview, "And I got a look at differ ent it kind of made me look at things differently."
! ! 184 Sarah was afforded the opportunity to "look at things differently" not only through listening to and interacting with the multiple perspectives of the other girls in the book club, but also the cha racters in the texts who formed the basis of the discussions first with Frankie ( Frankie Landau Banks ) and later Jane, Bella, and Yetta ( Uprising ). Sarah viewed each of the characters from a potential relationship perspective (Mishler, 1999). Even when Sarah stated she could never be friends with Frankie, she contrasted herself with her and in doing so, expressed her self identity to the group while acknowledging and affirming the identities of Lacey and Bianca who aligned themselves with Frankie and her self identity expression through covert pranks committed against the private school administrators. This aspect of the character Frankie led to divisiveness among the girls. Bianca and Lacey firmly agreed with Frankie's actions as a method for establishi ng both how she perceived herself and how others perceived her: self identity and identity. The girls were in agreement that not only did Frankie want to shed her own perception of herself as the "bunny rabbit," but she also wanted others to see her as a n empowered individual. According to Sarah, however, Frankie's focus on altering others' perceptions of her was evidence of her lack of independence and empowerment. As firmly as Sarah held to that perspective, Bianca and Lacey cheered with each of Frank ie's new school pranks. Th rough the shared text, the girls reflected Rosenblatt's (1994) assertion that books offer adolescents a mode of exploring and interpreting their unique thoughts, emotions, and ways of interacting with the world. A world often i nhospitable to those unique qualities.
! ! 185 Learning from Bianca Bianca's experiences participating in the book club demonstrated that adolescent girls vary in what they perceive as environments conducive to their self identity expression. Bianca was the only participant who stated in the final interview that increasing the number of participants would have improved the book club. According to Bianca, more participants more would have meant more perspectives perspectives affording her more opportunities to debate and win." Bianca was both consistent and unique in her preference for large groups with an adversarial atmosphere as conducive to her self identity expression. In the initial interview, Bianca shared a model for this atmosphere in describing her fa vorite class: marine science especially during debate over current event articles. Figure 3 presents a visual representation of Bianca's self identities, the physical and attitudinal elements of the conducive environment in which she is able to expres s those self identities, and her perceptions of identity.
! ! 186 Figure 3 : Bianca 's Perceptions of Identity, Influences on Self Identity Expres sion, and Self Identity Statements Bianca's participation in the book club mirrored t his same debate like approach. Bianca therefore did not reflect Lamb's (1991) assertion that teacher constructed classroom discussion in which students are instructed to adopt an adversarial position of convincing a reader to accept a particular response as valid marginalize and silence females for whom connectedness and relationships are of primary importance (Belenky et al, 1997; Gilligan, 1982; Gilligan et al, 1990; Brown & Gilligan, 1992). Bianca's perception was that within an adversarial environment she was able to express her self identities. When "#$%#&'()*+! ),!-.#*'('/ -*,01 #*%#+! )*!2#0, 3 -.#*'('/! 45&$#++()* 2#0, 3 -.#*'('/ "#$%&%#$%#'! ()*+ )-.%#'%$! A%*$%! "4&6+=.3% A*-5%!5-)6& 9''.'6$%!#)'! .4&)-'*#' ;<&-%==.)# &%-:%&'.)#! 4.=4*':0 >%3%+)&.#5! &-):%== ;<&+)-%$!8! %<&-%==%$!.#! '%<'!?)-+$ /0*&%$! @1! =):.%'1
! ! 187 the book club did not reflect the physical or attitudinal elements she perceived as conducive to her self identity expression, Bianca's response was far from passive acceptance, silence or marginalization Bianca acted as an active agent of change and created an atmosphere in the book club she perceived as conducive to her self identity expression. Rogoff's (1995) "participatory appropriation" was reflected in Bianca's attempt to transfer the qualities o f conducive environments such as her large, debate oriented marine science class to the non conducive environment of the small, relationship oriented, discussion based book club. Bianca's case clearly demonstrates that adolescent females do not necessaril y play a passive role in merely reacting to environmental factors. Like the other participants, Bianca viewed identity as a sociocultural construct, yet unlike the others, Bianca perceived individuals as empowered with the ability to make changes to their environment to create an atmosphere conducive to their self identity expression. If it were within her powers, Bianca would most likely have recruited more participants to join the book club thereby enlarging the group and providing her with the physica l space she needed to be herself. While enlarging the group was not possible, though, Bianca attempted to shape the attitudinal atmosphere of the group to reflect what she perceived as necessary for her self identity expression. The first words transcrib ed in the first book discussion are from Bianca who stated, "I make everything difficult. Semi intentionally." Later in the final interview, Bianca stated that she enjoyed being part of the book club because it gave her the opportunity to state her opini ons and engage in "debating with the other girls on viewpoints and winning." Clearly conveying her goal in discussing/debating with others, Bianca stated: "I like to win. It's one of my favorite
! ! 188 things winning." Bianca's perception of the book club as having a debate like atmosphere persisted even though on numerous occasions the other members of the group (who stated preferences for environments with open, non adversarial atmospheres) worked together to thwart her attempts. Bianca's case also shows how adolescent females will enlarge their literacy practices if these practices reflect environmental factors conducive to self identity expression. This reflects Dewey's (1916) assertion of the "educative" power of the social environment as individuals p articipate in a "conjoint" activity and are "saturated with its emotional spirit" (p. 26). The multiple perspectives and numerous instances of differences of opinion provided Bianca with an environment in which she could express her self identity. The ed ucative power of the social environment can be seen in Bianca's change in perspective concerning reading preferences. When the participants discussed the book list and began considering what texts they would read, Bianca was adamant that she did not enjoy reading historical fiction. She stated her strong preference for science fiction or fantasy as they offered "opportunities" in which anything could happen. This preference mirrored Bianca's self identity statement as being someone who "thinks outside th e box." Ultimately, and with Bianca's strong input, the girls decided on two texts, which were neither science fiction nor fantasy. Bianca was the first to suggest both. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks is realistic fiction featuring a t eenage girl attending an elite prep school. Bianca had stated in the initial interview she never read realistic fiction, especially texts whose plot and central character were similar to her and her own life. Yet in the Frankie Landau Banks text, the par allels are clear. Frankie challenges the status quo at her private school. Bianca self identified as an
! ! 189 environmentalist, a tree hugger, and a debater and spoke in great lengths about the private prep school she previously attended. The second text, U prising historical fiction, Bianca immediately identified on the book list due to the author one of Bianca's favorite. Once she began reading the text, Bianca became immediately engaged. Like Frankie Landau Banks Uprising offered Bianca characters wi th whom she could immediately identify characters whose actions Bianca perceived as reflecting self identities mirroring her own. Frankie, the challenger to the status quo and in Uprising Yetta a young woman who organized strikes against the shirtwai st factory owners. Beyond simple identification with the characters, though, Bianca's strong preference for the book Uprising indicates the important role text world environment plays. Uprising is told in alternating chapters focusing on the lives of thr ee very different young women. These three women held multiple perspectives on the social issues central to the text and offered Bianca much more than self identity connection they offered her substance to engage in debate. The two texts, one realistic fiction, the other historical fiction, represent literature Bianca rejected as a reader yet cited as positive aspects of participating in the book club. Bianca's experience indicates that genre features may be less important to a reader's enjoyment of a text than the degree to which the environment in the text world reflects those factors the reader perceives as conducive to her self identity expression. Learning from Lacey Lacey's experiences participating in the book club demonstrate the critical ro le perception may play in adolescent girls' self identity expression as well as their keen ability to discern and evaluate others' perceptions. Sharing her self identity as goal
! ! 190 oriented, school focused and therefore uniting her with the other girls, Lace y also shared her self identity as a lesbian early in the initial interview. Like all of the other girls except Bianca, Lacey emphasized attitudinal attributes of the environments as either conducive or not conducive to her self identity expression. Lik e Bianca, the physical size of the environment was inconsequential. Lacey's case occupies space separating her from all of the other girls, and yet uniting her with other adolescent females beyond the book group. Figure 4 presents a visual representation of Lacey's self identities, the physical and attitudinal elements of the conducive environment in which she is able to express those self identities, and her perceptions of identity.
! ! 191 Figure 4 : Lacey 's Perceptions of Identity, Influences on Self Identity Expression, and Self Identity Statements Lacey's case demonstrates a unique perspective on adolescent female identity expression in her focus on the perceptions held by members of the sociocultural environment. Lac ey herself employed the term "perception" and exhibited an acute awareness of the term in practice an awareness gained through extensive and frequent experience. In both her home and school environments, Lacey learned both the importance of individual's perceptions most specifically concerning their perception of homosexuality as acceptable or unacceptable and how to gauge the presence of those perceptions. In her "#$%#&'()*+! ),!-.#*'('/ -*,01#*%#+! )*!2#0, 3 -.#*'('/! 45&$#++()* 2#0, 3 -.#*'('/ "#$%&%#$%#'! ()*+ )-.%#'%$! 76'5).#5 "#'%++.5%#' (-)6&!=.B%!#)'!.4&)-'*#' CD%-:%&' .)#E :-.'.:*+ ;<&-%==.)# &%-:%&'.)#! 4.=4*':0 >%3%+)&.#5! &-):%== ;<&+)-%$!8! %<&-%==%$!.#! '%<'!?)-+$ /0*&%$! @1! =):.%'1
! ! 192 home environment, Lacey shared her self identity as a lesbian with her mother and fath er, but not with members of her extended family, many of whom Lacey stated embraced religious perspectives in which homosexuality is considered a sin and therefore unacceptable. In this way, Lacey reflected what Brown and Gilligan (1992) stated as embodyi ng the qualities of the female, relationship oriented self seen particularly as young females "resolve a conflict between responsibility to others and responsibility to self" (p. 35). At school, the environment resulting from the merging of two schools a nd the subsequent upheaval in terms of student body caused Lacey to feel what she described as "separating from other people other groups" because there were many new students she did not know. She contrasted this atmosphere with the previous year in wh ich she knew nearly everyone in her grade and most in the other grades as well and saw herself as "popular." Lacey's case further demonstrates that some adolescent females, perceiving the presence of often hostile perceptions, will purposefully separate t hemselves from environments they are not certain are conducive to their self identity expression environments often reflecting broader societal norms (McCarthey & Moje, 2002). Lacey's case also shows the importance of self identity expression to adolesce nt females, an act that does not necessarily require reinforcement from the environment. Lacey indicated she knew all but one of the participants in the book club prior to her participation. Her self identity expression while participating in the book cl ub indicates she had prior knowledge concerning group members' perceptions especially their acceptance of homosexuality. During discussions, Lacey on a number of occasions contributed to the talk focusing on romantic relationships by sharing statements about her
! ! 193 girlfriend. All of those discussions were verbally one directional. Lacey's statements were not so much accepted as they were received without comment; a process Lacey seemed to perceive as indicating acceptance because she continued in other i nstances to share statements reflecting her self identity as a lesbian. This contrasted with the other girls' experiences. They received positive, reinforcing verbal feedback for their comments about their romantic relationships with males in various for ms including statements building on the comments and statements contrasting the comments with dissimilar experiences. But Lacey received nothing verbally except for in one instance. Lacey had made a statement about how her girlfriend thinks she looks bea utiful even when she's just wearing workout shorts and a tank top. After giggling slightly, Katie responded by saying, "Oh, it's like that song by Drake" and then began singing the first lines about a boy's love for his girlfriend when she's dressed casua lly. Learning from the book c lub The experiences of each participant selected to be the focus of a case study provided multiple opportunities for learning. However, as the girls themselves indicated in adopting a unifying pseudonym for the group itsel f, The Super Girl Nerd Squad, the experiences of the participants must also be viewed in connection with one another. The book club was t herefore identified as a separate case study. As stated in the methodology section, I began the study outlining the spe cifics of the book club in broad strokes mostly in terms of procedural matters such as where the club would meet, for how long, etc. However, the book club evolved from an idea on paper to the vibrant entity it became in the hands of the participants th emselves. Considering the book club, or more accurately The Super Girl Nerd Squad, offers multiple opportunities for learning.
! ! 194 One aspect of what can be learned from the book club is connected to the situation discussed above concerning members of the book club not responding to Lacey's self identity expressions as a lesbian. This aspect of the book club demonstrates that while perception of an environment may inhibit an adolescent female from self identity expression, even when the individual perceive s a conducive atmosphere, the environment itself specifically, the members who comprise the environment may find the expression not conducive to its functioning. Lacey perceived the attitudes of the girls in the group as accepting of homosexuality and therefore felt able to express this aspect of her self identity. However, the complete silence that followed all but one of Lacey's comments made in sharing her homosexuality demonstrate that adolescent females may reflect accepting or tolerant perceptio ns of homosexuality, but they may not be able to embrace it in the same way they embrace heterosexuality. When the topic of the group discussion was a male female romantic relationship in one of the texts, the group members engaged in an easy, seemingly e ffortless pattern of sharing personal connections and responding/reacting to one another's connections. This was not the case when Lacey shared personal connections about her same sex relationship. The group became silent and the pattern stopped abruptly As a group, the book club members appeared unable to situate homosexual self identity statements within the perspectives of heterosexual self identity statements shared among the majority of the group members. The book club case study also demonstrates the ability of adolescent females to engage in effective group maintenance behavior (Zemelman, Daniels, & Hyde, 1998). As a self identified debater, authoritarian, and leader, Bianca immediately and consistently attempted to create an environment in the book club conducive to her own
! ! 195 self identity expression. Debate, rather than discussion appeared to be her goal. However, the other group members operated together to maintain their shared goal of a book club environment focused on discussion. The issue of whether or not to embrace a talking stick or some other mechanism to ensure equal voice and participation is one example of how the group members regulated their own behavior. While the majority of members favored using a talking stick or an auditory cue such as clapping, Bianca expressed strong feelings against adopting this practice as it would add an element of restrictiveness to individual expression in the group. The book club ultimately worked together to find a middle ground with all agreeing t o be more aware of providing space for equal and full participation by all group members. The book club also worked as a single entity to regulate potential threats to the "open and accepting" attitudinal environment present. When Lacey expressed her fee lings that Bianca had belittled her, Lacey was supported by the other group members who clearly, yet without malice, stated that Bianca did indeed belittle Lacey. A common misperception of adolescent females would lead to predicting a situation such as th is would escalate to Lacey and the other members "ganging up" against Bianca. The book club demonstrated this is not necessarily the case. While not directly apologizing to Lacey, Bianca engaged in dialogue reflecting a more humble, uniting attitude dia logue immediately accepted by the group members. The participants described the book club environment as conducive to their self identity expression, and it is important to recognize the contribution the girls themselves made individually and collectively to establishing and regulating the environment.
! ! 196 Cross case i ssues By beginning with a focus on learning from the experiences of the individual adolescent females who participated in the book club study, I have continued to emphasize and privilege the voi ces of these young women. Drawing on those experiences further, I now turn to addressing the two exploratory questions. Perceptions of i dentity Psychosocial theories of human development acknowledge that an individual's identity is located both within a nd without. Erickson (1963, 1964, 1968, 1986), widely cited in research focusing on adolescent identity development is prominent among those who embrace this sociocultural view of identity development. The participants in the book club all shared this pe rception of identity as a sociocultural construct. Erickson's views further coincide with those of the participants in the book study by viewing identity as both developmental and exploratory. The significant point of departure between Erickson and the f indings of the present study exists in how Erickson viewed gender differences in identity development. According to Erickson, a female's identity development is held in a sort of limbo until she is able to fashion an identity that will attract a male, for he is the one from whom she will be known. The girls in the book club all acknowledged this perspective of female identity development exists, but maintained it existed with other girls and not with themselves. Bianca engaged in a lengthy description of how her younger sister mimicked this process even as a kindergartener. However, Bianca also viewed this process as not inherent within females, although she used the word "desires" when stating, "The female population desires" Later statements reflect B ianca's perspective that the process is established by society and perpetuated by the participation of females.
! ! 197 Gilligan's work with adolescent females rejected other aspects of Erickson's theory of adolescent identity development. While Erickson viewed adolescents as exploring and eventually achieving identity through separation from others, Gilligan found this male oriented perspective was not true for females for whom identity development was based on relationships. The data gathered in the present s tudy supported Gilligan's relationship oriented perspective on adolescent female identity development, but with one noteworthy exception. Four out of the five girls who participated in the book club repeatedly emphasized the importance of relationships not only in their lives, but to their self identity. Only Bianca failed to make any direct statement about the value of friends and relationships. However, Bianca's experience when the group supported Lacey in her challenge to Bianca as belittling her, indi cates the value she placed on maintaining relationships. While not apologizing to Lacey, Bianca worked quickly and purposefully to repair the injury to their relationship and re established her position as a member of the group. Bianca, who repeatedly st ated her self identity as a debater and challenger of the status quo, reflected what Brown and Gilligan (1992) found regarding the importance of relationships to adolescent females. The complexities and layering found in Sarah, Lacey, and Bianca, however cause even Gilligan's view of adolescent female identity development to be too restrictive. Bianca often appeared more separation oriented, just as she seemed to embrace the adversarial approach to literature discussion both deemed as male oriented by male theorists such as Erickson and feminists such as Lamb (1991). Some might ask: Is Bianca appropriating these behaviors as a sign of independence (where independence is
! ! 198 construed as a male quality; so in order to be independent, a female must act lik e a male)? However, this question continues to position females in relationship with male oriented theory. Listening to the perspectives of the girls and learning from their individual case studies necessitates fashioning a new vision. The girls in the b ook club study established themselves clearly as independent individuals. Through self identity statements and expressing perspectives often contradicting those of other members of the book club during discussions, the girls indicate the need for a new mo del of female adolescent identity development. This new model needs to reflect girls and their sociocultural worlds of today. The new vision must reject the dichotomous approach of identity as either Erickson's male oriented separation theory or Gilligan' s female oriented relationship theory, and instead reflect a continuum. Along this continuum, all adolescents will be able to find space for self identity development, exploration, and expression. Figure 5 represents various positions along this continuu m each of the three participants occupied at various times during the study. Through self identity statements made without the presence of other participants during initial/final interviews and in her reader response journal as well as those made during b ook discussions in which other participants were present, Bianca primarily displayed characteristics of Erickson's model of identity through separation. However, as stated in Chapter Four, Bianca did indicate a degree of value placed on relationships duri ng book discussions when her statements led to isolation from the group. In those situations, Bianca actively sought to regain her status as a group member often through the use of humor. Similarly, Lacey and Sarah primarily embodied Gilligan's relation ship based view of female identity. But like Bianca, Lacey and Sarah often displayed qualities more reflective of Erickson's model.
! ! 19 9 Identity Identity through through Separation Relationships (Erickson) (Gilligan) Bianca Bianca Sarah Lacey Sarah Lacey Lacey Figure 5: Participant Positions within Erickson and Gilligan Identity Development Theories In addition to calling for a new model of adolescent identity development, cross case analysis of the five participants in the book club study also indicated a relationship between adolescent female identity development and the text world as another sociocultural environment in which that occurs. Blackford (2004) found in her study of the reading p ractices of eighth grade females that the girls purposefully selected texts featuring characters who did not mirror themselves. Blackford acknowledges that these findings seem to contradict over 30 years of literacy research. According to Blackford, by s electing texts with characters who differed from themselves, the adolescent females were able to "experience a welcome diffusion of identity, bifurcating themselves into a seeing and imagining' agent in' the text and differentiating this omniscient, read ing self from the self that exists in life" (p. 9). The girls in the present study offered data both confirming and contradicting Blackford's findings. When I shared with Bianca that like her, a participant in the pilot study preferred fantasy because as she stated: "It's fun to get away from what's going on with school and my momI get away from all that when I read fantasy," Bianca confirmed these were her feelings as well. I then presented the perspective that adolescent readers prefer to read texts f eaturing characters similar to the readers themselves, to which Bianca reacted with a rhetorical question: "Why would I want to read a book about my own life?" In citing the Harry Potter series as her favorite
! ! 200 books, Katie, too identified their appeal as residing in the nature of the text world, not the characters. According to Katie, within this world "anything can happen." However, book discussions consistently focused on the individual characters, and only occasionally on the nature of the text world. Contradicting Blackford's findings, the girls discussed these characters by evaluating first their actions through comparison with themselves, then how the actions reflected on the character as an individual, and often concluding with an evaluative state ment indicating whether or not this character would be embraced as a friend. Blackford relied on interviews with the adolescent females to gather data concerning their reading preferences. The data from the present study included not only interviews, but also reader response journals, and discussions. Findings from these varied forms of data indicate the process of text selection in adolescent females is much more complex than Blackford reported. Overt statements the participants made during individual i nterviews concerning their reading preferences do confirm Blackford's findings: The girls stated a preference for books with characters separate from their own experiences. However, in reader response journals and collaborative discussions, the girls ind icated an affinity for characters with whom they perceived a sense of shared self identity. Without this shared self identity, the girls expressed dislike for the text itself. Sarah expressed such a strong disconnect with the central character Frankie in Frankie Landau Banks she may have stopped reading the book had it not been part of the book club. Bianca, too, continued throughout most of the discussion of Uprising to rail against the character Jane. Were it not for the presence of characters such as Y etta, with whom Bianca stated a self identity connection, she too would have abandoned the book. The girls did not want or need the characters and their
! ! 201 experiences to mirror their own lives; but they did express through the journals and discussions the n eed for a shared sense of self identity with the character(s). Finally, the experiences of the five girls in the book club study indicate the common misperceptions existing concerning the nature of adolescent identity. Again, unlike Erickson's concept of identity as undeveloped in adolescence and shifting with each storm and crisis, the girls in the study indicate the need for a different perspective. Sarah, Bianca, and Lacey each showed a clear sense of self identity. Statements expressing the nature of their individual self identities remained consistent throughout the book club and reflected in both individual contexts such as the interviews and reader response journals and group contexts such as the weekly book club discussions. As described in the i ndividual case studies and the book club case study in Chapter Four, the girls each had a clear sense of understanding regarding elements in environments that were both conducive and not conducive to their self identity expressions. Further, the girls exp ressed a keen ability to regulate their environments and when necessary, to adapt to non conducive environments. Influences on self identity e xpression In Chapter Two I shared two statements by reader response theorist Louise Rosenblatt that have parti cular importance in light of the findings from the present study. Rosenblatt referred to the role of reader response in the lives of adolescents stating: The adolescent particularly may be helped to interpret his own acutely self conscious emotio ns and motivations Books may help the adolescent perceive the validity of his own temperamental bent, even when that bent may not be valued by his own environment. (1994, p.192)
! ! 202 Rosenblatt continued to address the value of employing a reader response a pproach to literature instruction with adolescents and emphasized the particular value to female adolescents by stating: The adolescent worry over the need to conform to the culturally dominant pictures of the temperamental traits, types of work, and modes of behavior appropriate to each of the sexes can be lessened through a wide circle of literary acquaintances. The young girl may need to be liberated from the narrow view of the feminine role imposed by her milieu. (p. 193) Rosenblatt's words are embodie d in the experiences of the five girls who participated in the present study. Even with, or perhaps especially with, the characters the individual girls railed against (for instance the character Jane in Uprising for Bianca and the character Frankie in Th e Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks for Sarah), this "wide circle of literary acquaintances" offered the girls the opportunity to "be liberated from the narrow view of the feminine role." Sarah continued to resist Frankie's covert and overt att acks on the male dominated practices in the male dominated world of her school and the Basset Hound Club, but then discussed in the final interview how she had changed as a result of participating in the book club in terms of how much more she speaks up in class and in her more feminist perception of the world around her. Did Frankie's transformation from bunny rabbit to empowered, outspoken young woman help "liberate" Sarah from being a shy female a role she both self identifies with and attributes to o ther's perceptions of her? The book club environment both physically and attitudinally mirrored those Sarah identified as being conducive to her self identity expression. Practicing in the conducive
! ! 203 environment (the book club) therefore gave rise to sel f identity expression in a non conducive environment (the classroom). Rosenblatt's perspective may also be reflected. Both texts involve characters challenging established, male dominated social structures. The example Sarah shared in elaborating on her statement that being involved in the book club helped her to see things differently was the use of symbols on bathroom doors. "We're not just men with dresses," Sarah stated. Bianca offered both a similar and contrasting example of Rosenblatt's perspect ive reflected in the book club. Bianca entered the book club as an outspoken and outgoing individual, exhibiting characteristics of a highly empowered adolescent female. She and Lacey cheered first with the character Frankie and later with Yetta charac ters who mirrored self identity statements made by Bianca and Lacey themselves. What, then, did the character Jane offer these two adolescent female readers? Bianca stated she "begrudgingly" forgave Jane. In the end, Bianca was finally able to accept an d embrace empowerment and identity as a developing process of becoming. This, too, was an act of liberation. Bianca may now be more accepting of girls like book club member Katie who she constantly teased for not speaking up and asserting her thoughts an d opinions. Both characters with whom adolescent female readers can identify and those with whom they may at first reject may become part of what Rosenblatt termed a "wide circle of literary acquaintances" and therefore part of the soicocultural world the girls inhabit beyond the book club. The present study therefore confirms previous research finding all adolescent female book discussion groups serve as sites of empowerment and agency for participants (Radway, 1997; Cherland & Edlesky, 1994; Finders, 19 97; Carico, 2001; Smith, 2001).
! ! 204 Cross case analysis indicates that through participating in the literacy events associated with the book club, adolescent females gained cultural power (Radway, 1997) enabling the crafting of new self identities formed in t he safe arena of the conducive environment of the book club and enacted in the non conducive environment of the classroom. The present study also confirms Cherland and Edelsky (1994) who found adolescent females used fiction as a mode of exploring female agency outside the realm of patriarchal societal norms. In the present study the fiction texts reflected feminist perspectives, yet Cherland and Edlesky's study encompassed a broader range of fictional texts with a similar finding. Analysis of the three cases further supports findings indicating that, for adolescent females, reading is both active and agentive. The participants in the present study reflect this agentive quality both in fashioning new self identities and expressing them in non conducive e nvironments, as well as in affecting change in these non conducive environment to fashion a more conducive one. Implications for P ractice Individually and collectively, the adolescent girls who participated in the book club study offered rich opportunit ies for learning about the nature of identity and elements influencing identity expression in a literature based context. Literacy as a Sociocultural Construct The increasing pressure of high stakes testing has led to significant shifts in classroom ped agogical practices. This shift is particularly evident in reading and English language arts classrooms. Pedagogy that is attendant to standardized tests in reading often requires students to read passages of both fiction and non fiction text, and then re quires them to determine the "one correct answer." The implications of student
! ! 205 performance on these tests are felt by school districts, schools, students, and increasingly teachers, for whom merit pay is quickly becoming the norm. In varying degrees, all forms of merit pay involve basing part of teachers' salaries to students' performances on standardized tests. While teachers may theoretically embrace reader response and student centered classrooms, they increasingly feel the pressure to reduce effectiv e pedagogical practices to simply "teaching to the test." In reading and English language arts classrooms this often translates into skill instruction designed to enable students to perform well on the state test. Classrooms such as these are bereft of t he type of space that was provided for the girls in the book club. Within this space the girls engaged in deep, thoughtful, critical responses to literature, while expressing their self identities and exploring others' identities. As adolescents, these f ive girls were provided space by and with a trusted adult to engage in what is acknowledged to be a critical element in human development: identity exploration (Erickson, 1963, 1964, 1968, 1986; Gilligan, 1982, 1993; Marcia 1966, 1980 Grotevant, 1987; Moj e, 2002). Sumara's text, Why Reading Literature in School Still Matters serves as a reminder that literature's value is far more than text material used to teach workplace literacy skills. Focusing solely on literacy as a set of skills denies students th e opportunity to experience the full measure of what literary engagement can offer. Sumara (2002) describes the nature of this experience as "an important site for the ongoing interpretation of the personal, the communal, and the cultural" (p. 12). The Super Girl Nerd Squad is not an aberration occurring in an environment outside of a classroom; it is both evidence of the possible and the necessary.
! ! 206 Classroom Discussions None of the questions listed on either the initial or final interview protocols made any reference to teacher and classroom practices, and yet unprompted, each participant contributed decided perspectives on them particularly classroom discussions. This is perhaps not surprising, given that all of the girls reported they had never participated in a book club before. Classroom discussions were their only point of reference to reflect and comment on the activities in the book club. Collectively the girls painted an unfavorable picture of classroom discussions. When they exist, they are almost exclusively whole class and used to assess content knowledge. The literature discussions the girls described occurring in their language arts classes reflected the male oriented, adversarial approach (Lamb, 1991) in which responses are deemed valid only when supported by evidence from the text. While students who self identify as debaters, like Bianca, might feel positive initially with this type of discussion, when they discover that rather than a true debate, what is actually occurring is a game of "guess what's in the teacher's mind" they will feel the opportunity to engage in true, meaningful debate has been co opted by the teacher. What is mistakenly referred to as discussion is in fact a search for the single correct answer, according to the teacher. Bianca, who also self identified as someone who "thinks outside the box," would not find room for that type of thinking in this environment. The case studies and participants' observations comparing the book club with classroom discussions c learly indicate a mismatch between these discussions and what the girls identified as elements creating an atmosphere conducive to their self identity expression. The majority of the girls in the book club stated small group environments
! ! 207 were those in whi ch they could express their self identity, and yet the girls expressed predominantly negative views of the few examples of small groups they'd experienced in their classes. Sarah, Bianca, and Lacey differed in their preferences for small or large groups i n which they could express their self identities, but shared a common need for environments in which there was space for individual self identity expression. Space they did not find in the classroom. Sarah used the term "open and accepting." Bianca foun d this space in fantasy novels and referred to it as "room for opportunity." Lacey, who had already honed a keen ability to gauge other's perceptions of homosexuality, could only be part of larger groups when she feels acceptance for her self identity as a lesbian. To meet the needs of all students, teachers can arrange discussions in both small group and whole class structures. However, successful discussions those which offer students rich opportunities to engage with text, make connections, derive pe rsonal meaning, explore and express self identity these discussions will only occur when the teacher has considered not only the physical environment but also the attitudinal environment. While I consistently sought to maintain a researcher role as a pa rticipant observer, I am also aware that both my actions and lack of actions contributed to the open and accepting atmosphere the girls perceived as existing in the book club. In each decision in the design and implementation of the book club study, I att empted to balance my needs as a researcher with the needs of the adolescent females participating in the study. I needed rich, descriptive data for the study, the girls needed autonomy, choice, and an adult who deeply valued their voices and trusted their ability to engage in meaningful literary discussions. Lacey's statement during the final interview assured me
! ! 208 this balance had been achieved. In reflecting about the nature of the discussions, she observed: "If you let them, kids will go off topic, but if you trust them enough, they'll mostly come back, too." Classroom teachers must practice that same level of trust. Building trusting relationships with the students as individuals and reflecting this trust in the organization of the classroom and the activities in which students engage establishes a culture of trust, leading to an open and accepting environment in which students are able to express their various self identities. Literature Selection As a researcher intent on avoiding playing a possible teacher role, my goal was for the girls to feel a sense of empowerment to create the book club as their own space. In turn, the girls themselves created a space that was a "cultural context(s) that both called for and expected the active thought and pa rticipation of each student." (Langer, p.18) Classroom management principles, even the design of literature circle role sheets and other protocols for small group discussions (Daniels, 2002; Raphael & McMahon, 1994) are touted as mechanisms to help teache rs ensure students are able to engage in rich discussions. Inherent in the concept of rich discussions is the idea that students stay focused on the topic of discussing the book. This is part of a larger concern among educators about "off task" talk and b ehavior. From the book club and spending copious amount of time reading and re reading transcripts of the discussions my perspective is that nothing is really off topic when viewed as part of a collaborative conversation. When I expanded my goal of creat ing a book club for adolescent readers to providing space for those readers, my own perception and subsequent acceptance of what would transpire within that space also expanded. I engaged in the act of trust Lacey described.
! ! 209 As a result, I began to see a powerful pattern emerge. Discussion began with a reference to a character or event in the text, it expanded through further contributions from the text by other group members, then personal connections began to be shared, the personal connections then le d to discussions about personal lives not connected with the text, and finally, one of the participants would bring the discussion back to the text by sharing a new observation. While the foundational notion of a small group of readers gathering togethe r to read and discuss a shared text is present in both the Daniels and Raphael & McMahon models, they bear little else in common with the out of school adult book clubs described by Long (2003). Nowhere in Long's work does she describe book clubs in which readers prepare and read from role sheets or engage in individual writing/representing activities prior to a leader directed group discussion. And while scaffolding is a key feature in effective instruction, its use is predicated on the assumption that t here is a novice expert learning situation. With data from the book club study, I am now able to address questions asked semi rhetorically in Chapter Two: Are our young readers bereft of the ability to engage in meaningful discourse? When does scaffoldi ng become a disabling crutch smothering individual self expression? Literacy events occurring in a classroom are often based on a masculine gender orientation (Lamb, 1991; Belenky et al, 1997; Gilligan, 1982; Gilligan et al, 1990; Gilligan, 1992). Enter ing the study, I wondered: As the girls shared their individual responses to literature outside of the classroom environment and with only other females present, what kinds of literacy events would take place? Would the girls reflect the masculine based classroom practices in their book club interactions, or would the female
! ! 210 based social environment of the book club encourage connectedness and relationships, offering space for them to make their authentic voices heard? Bianca stated her self identity as a debater in the initial interview and continued to express that self identity and approach to discussion throughout the book club. Is this evidence of how deeply entrenched the male oriented, adversarial approach to classroom literature discussions in wh ich a reader has to defend his/her interpretations by evidence gained from the text is with Bianca? Teacher Education The experiences of the five girls who comprised The Super Girl Nerd Squad offer significant implications for preservice teacher education programs. Listening to the voices and perspectives of these adolescent females provides numerous "whys" for what is frequently espoused as exemplary pedagogical practices. One of these practices is cooperative learning (Johnson & Johnson, 1974; Slavin, 1977). Structures such as think pair share, numbered heads together, and round robin are highly touted as methods to engage students in learning with and through interactions with peers. Methods courses, adolescent learners courses, classroom management courses and others emphasize cooperative learning, yet focus primarily on the academic over the affective domain. As the experiences of these five adolescent girls indicate, engaging in meaningful discussions not only deepens understanding of the material discussed, but also affords adolescents the opportunity to participate in Dewey's (1916) "educative" social environment. Dewey described what we now term cooperative learning groups in which individuals work in concert with one another in a shared activi ty, acquiring skills, ways of work, and subject area knowledge while being "saturated with its emotional spirit" (p.
! ! 211 26). The experiences of these girls indicate the need for teacher education curriculum to continue to emphasis the benefits of cooperative learning, but to enlarge the focus to include the critical role these small groups play in providing many adolescent females a conducive environment in which they can express their self identities. Teacher preparation programs, too, should consider shi fting away from the almost exclusive emphasis on defining adolescents and adolescent identity through the work of Erikson (1950). As discussed previously, the five girls in the book club shared and expressed a range of perceptions of identity that defy Er ikson's male oriented view. Preservice teachers in secondary education programs need to understand the developmental needs of the students they will one day teach. Curriculum in teacher education programs must move beyond a single identity through separa tion model, by including the work of Brown and Gilligan (1992) who viewed identity through relationships. Ultimately, however, preservice teachers need to see adolescent identity as fluid and its development as unique as the adolescents themselves. Recomme ndations for Future R esearch Participants The five adolescent females who participated in the present study were in many ways a homogenous group: white, middle to upper middle class, academically successful students. Closer examination, through the case studies, reveals numerous ways these girls distinguish themselves as individuals. Therefore, participant selection procedures offer additional opportunities for future research. In partial reaction to Kindlon's (2006) portrayal of the high achieving, suc cessful, self confident Alpha Girl, I conducted participant selection for the present study exclusively through eighth grade advanced
! ! 212 language arts classes. Even in so doing, the girls who ultimately became participants in the study represent a range of a cademic abilities (most notably Lacey who while self identifying as academically goal oriented, also self identified as someone who is "just now getting into reading," contrasting sharply with the other participants who self identified as proficient reader s). My intent, however, was not to explore identity perception exclusively among white adolescent females, though this was the result of my selection procedure. Future research, therefore, should include perspectives from adolescent females from diverse racial, ethnic, and achievement backgrounds. A diverse group of participants offers the opportunity to explore self identity from multiple perspectives and within an environment that may more closely mirror the diversity of our society and schools. An a dditional area for future researchers to consider in terms of participants is the number recruited for the study. Research focusing on a group is tenuous, and even more so when the participants are adolescents. While my intent was always to form discussi on groups not exceeding five members per group, having exactly five participants caused a great deal of anxiety. I knew to plan for attrition in working with groups, however with five participants my ability to experience attrition and still have a partic ipant discussion group that would engage in rich descriptions and therefore provide rich data was significantly less than if I had been able to recruit my projected number of ten participants. Ultimately, I believe this lack of tolerance for attrition led me to work even harder to establish a sense of community and ownership among the girls. Feeling positive about and invested in the book club would, I hoped, lead the individual girls to continue to participate in the group and therefore the study. I als o made additional
! ! 213 contacts with the parents throughout the eight weeks the book club met, further ensuring the girls' participation. Reader Response Journals Reader response journals occupied an important place in the initial overall design of the study The response journals would provide a view of individual readers engaging with the text prior to and separate from the book club discussions. I would then be able to see how reader response theory operated in the sociocultural context of the individual reader within the text world as well as the context of the individual reader, the text world, and the book club world. From the first week onward, though, getting the girls to write in their journals was a struggle. At one point, I tried using journal wr iting as a way for us to wrap up our meeting. I hoped by using the journal as a way to individually reflect on the weekly discussion meeting, the girls would begin to see the journal as a part of their participation in the book club. Even that quiet refl ection time became a challenge, though. I also tried the gentle reminder to write in their journals in a weekly note I sent to each girl via their language arts teacher. Still, journal writing remained inconsistent among most of the girls, and I remained convinced I was missing out on a rich source of data. Turning as always to the girls themselves to help guide me, I asked the girls to reflect on the reader response journals during the final interviews. Rachel made the following statement hinting at pos sible reasons the reader response journals were not successful: If you're reading for half an hour, you have to slow down, think about it, then write. And then you might want to reword what you were thinking and then you want to go deeper into your thou ghts because it's like, in a journal that other
! ! 214 people are reading that could help with studying.[final interview transcripts, October 2010] When I asked Rachel what she meant about the journal helping with studying, she responded, "Yeah, like studying h ow people might react to books. You might want to reword it so that it's deeper in thought." Clearly, Rachel felt self conscious in writing in a journal she knew would be collected and used as data in a research study. Future researchers conducting a si milar study have the option of employing certain structures to encourage the participants' engagement with the reader response journals. Structures or tools others have used include a weekly prompt, a graphic organizer, or a list of reader response prompt s from which participants may choose (Galda & Beach, 2001; DeBlase, 2003). However, in qualitative inquiry the researcher is a data collection instrument and as such, the role of the researcher significantly affects the study data. Shifts in the role of the researcher may therefore result in a shift in the data. Ever mindful of remaining as much as possible a participant observer in practice and in the participants' perceptions, I elected not to employ a structure or tool for the readers to use as these are too often associated with teacher directed mechanisms for response to literature. Rachel's comment confirms that composing a written response carried with it formality and permanence. Rachel remained conscious that she was composing not a personal re sponse, but data to be collected and analyzed. During one of the book club meetings, Sarah indicated her awareness of how the discussions would also be shared with an outside audience, but her statement reflected a casual observation of fact. In contrast Rachel's statement about the response journals reflected a self
! ! 215 consciousness resulting in restricting the transactional relationship between reader and text (Rosenblatt, 1978, 1995). Future researchers who engage in a similar study therefore must be aw are that by employing a structure or tool to encourage participants to consistently compose individual responses to literature they may gain data, but these structures/tools will impact the data differently. I saw a significant part of my role as the rese archer as ensuring the book club The Super Girl Nerd Squad was the girls' space. This perspective is in keeping with my focus on qualitative research as naturalistic inquiry (Merriam, 2009). Any data I may not have had access to as a result of my app roach in dealing with the lack of consistency in writing in the response journals was worth what I gained in terms of maintaining the natural environment of the study. Researchers could also consider offering participants alternatives to composing writing responses in journals. In the present study, those participants who indicated they enjoyed writing not surprisingly most consistently wrote in their reader response journals. If participants were given various options in representing their transactions with the text, however, there may be a greater consistency with completing individual responses. Verbal responses delivered via a digital recorder, visual representations such as drawings, even perhaps musical compositions could be presented as alternativ es to a reader response journal. Employing other technologies such as email, blogs, or private messages sent via social networking sites may also appeal to many adolescent females who feel most comfortable composing in digital environments.
! ! 216 Book Selecti on As shared in Chapter Three, the process of constructing a book list from which the girls would choose was a lengthy and critical process. In similar studies, researchers have chosen either to have the responsibility of book selection be up to the rese archer (Carico, 2001; Smith, 2001; Galda & Beach, 2001) or the participants (Blackford, 2004; Finders, 1997). Constructing a list of books from the Amelia Bloomer Project annual list achieved my goal of balancing the needs of the study with the needs of t he adolescent female readers in the study. At the intersection of these needs is the need for rich, descriptive data in the form of book discussions and response journals data that would only be present if the readers were able to engage deeply with the texts. The exploratory questions, too, informed the process of book selection. I needed to find books that would invite the participants to explore individually and collectively issues of identity. I therefore began to narrow my search to texts featuri ng strong female protagonists. When I discovered the Amelia Bloomer Project annual book lists with their focus on feminist texts, I was confident I'd found a list that would meet all the various criteria. Ultimately through group discussion and consens us, the girls selected two texts reflecting the experiences of adolescent females from a range of perspectives. In The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks the girls engaged in transactional experiences with a strong female protagonist who mirror ed the sociocultural world in which girls themselves lived. As a white, upper middle class heterosexual female attending an elite private school, Frankie offered Sarah and Bianca the opportunity to see themselves, at least their sociocultural backgrounds, reflected. In Uprising the three female protagonists represented slightly more diverse, immigrant backgrounds. Yet the
! ! 217 voice that opens and closes the story is Jane's: a white, upper middle class heterosexual female. Future research should include te xts whose characters represent an even greater range of diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. Lacey's experiences participating in the book club particularly emphasize this need. Lacey, who self identified a s a lesbian, readily engages with the other participants in discussions involving male female romantic relationships, and helps to maintain the momentum of the interactions among the girls. However, on the rare instances in which Lacey contributed to the male female romantic relationship discussion with a comment about her female female relationship, the interactions abruptly and uncomfortably ended. Reading a book with a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) character would not onl y have allowed Lacey to see her own self identity reflected within a text, but also provided the participants with scaffolding (Vygotsky, 1978) to help them learn how to engage in discussions involving sexual orientations not their own. Bullying in middle school is increasingly a problem leading to often tragic results. Suicide among teen victims of bullying is occurring at an alarming rate; often the bullying is tied to the victim's sexually orientation. With the inclusion of a text including a LGBTQ ch aracter, future research could explore how engaging in discussions about same sex relationships could help address the fear and ignorance associated with differences in sexual orientation often at the heart of bullying. Literacy as a Sociocultural Construc t The view of literacy as a sociocultural construct in which individuals' shape and are shaped by language tools is foundational to the present study and rests upon a rich theoretical and research background (Vygotsky, 1978; Heath, 1983; Rogoff, 1995; Cole
! ! 218 1990; John Steiner & Mann, 1997; Lewis, Enciso & Moje, 2007). Further research that continues to explore culture as shaping literacy practices and literature as shaping cultural practices must also focus on the culture that develops in small group commu nities such as the book club. Even in eight weeks, the girls who attended the weekly one hour book club meetings formed a community. However, in order to fully explore how a community such as this shapes the literacy practices of the participants, a more longitudinal approach would need to be employed. Future research could involve a book club meeting for a full academic year and with a broader focus on the literacy practices of the participants beyond the book club to home and school. Role of the Resea rcher As a qualitative researcher, I am cognizant of my role as an instrument. I collected the data; I analyzed the data. My presence itself as a participant observer at the book club meetings affected the data I collected. Future researchers who engag e in qualitative methodology must also be aware of this researcher as instrument role and actively engage in reflexivity throughout all aspects of the study. Active use of a researcher reflective journal, including entries in presenting the data are criti cal to "embracing subjectivity, replacing the pretense of objectivity" (Marshall & Rossman 2011, p. 35). Working with minors adds another element future researchers must consider. Participants who are adolescents present many similar challenges as conduc ting research with younger children, but just as the adolescents themselves are unique, so are the challenges (Fine & Sandstrom, 1988; Holmes, 1998). Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for the present study took nearly four months. The study its elf did not take place on school property, but the initial stage of
! ! 219 recruitment did. In order to enter the language arts teachers' classroom and distribute a flyer about the book club study, I was required to complete a 20 plus page approval document for the local school district, signed by the middle school principal. I had been forewarned by a member of my doctoral committee that working with minors would be as she phrased it "a nightmare." The four month process during which I revised and submitted, r evised and submitted a number of times in working toward obtaining IRB approval for the study approached embodying her prediction. I share this experience with future researchers so that they too will be forewarned, but not so that they will decide not to pursue research focusing on adolescents. As a feminist qualitative researcher, one of my goals is to highlight the lived experiences of others especially those whose voices have been traditionally silenced. There currently exists a tremendous gap in research focusing specifically on middle school aged adolescents, and if future researchers turn away from that research due to the potential of experiencing similarly lengthy, arduous IRB approval process the gap will remain. Chapter S ummary In this fi nal chapter I have discussed the findings of the present study. I began with a brief summary of the purpose and significance of the study, and then continued with a section on finding meaning in the individual case in which I returned to the case studies of three participants and the book club. I then explored cross case issues. Next, I focused on the two exploratory questions. I began by discussing the elements constituting participants' perspectives on identity, and revisiting key theorists and signif icant research presenting in Chapter Two, the review of literature. I then discussed
! ! 220 the second exploratory question, sharing new understandings about the physical and attitudinal attributes of the social environment that influence adolescent female's sel f identity expression. In the final two sections of this chapter I presented implications from the present study on classroom practices and concluded with recommendations for future research. A careful examination of the data resulted in distinct, yet ov erlapping perceptions of identity. First differentiating between identity (other's perception of who you are) and self identity (your perception of who you are), all of the participants shared a sociocultural view of identity as intricately connected to t he social environment. Self identity statements made by the participants showed commonalities such as being school focused, as well as differences ranging from being shy to outgoing and from artistic to a challenger/debater. The participants were keenly aware, too, of the environmental elements conducive to their abilities to express those self identities. Three participants strongly preferred small group environments with an atmosphere of open acceptance. One participant focused exclusively on the elem ent of acceptance and further expressed an ability to discern what she termed "perceptions" on the part of individuals in the particular environment. As she stated, this ability has been acquired as a result of experiences when she has shared with others her self identity as a lesbian. The fifth participant in the study contrasted with the others in her preference for large groups with a debate like, adversarial environment. The inability to place these five adolescent females within one perspective of adolescent female identity development rejects either Erickson's (1950) male oriented, identity through separation model or Brown and Gilligan's (1985) view of female identity
! ! 221 as relationship centered. The adolescent females in the present study reflect the need for a new model that is both linear and fluid. Within this expansive model, adolescent female iden tity will be seen as developed both through separation from others and building relationships with them. Operating within this model, adolescent fe males are afforded the opportunity to express their many self identities. The present study supports previous research indicating for adolescent females, engaging in literacy events is both active and agentive. In addition, the findings in the present st udy reflect this active and agentive nature of literacy holds true across individual self identities and descriptions of conducive environments for expression of those self identities. For example, a self identified shy adolescent female is empowered to f orm a self identity of someone who volunteers to speak more in class. Participation in a book club reflecting a self described conducive environment provides the individual safe space to practice the new self identity prior to expression in the non conduc ive environment. Empowerment may also be expressed in enacting change to the environment itself. For example, an adolescent female who self identifies as a debater and describes a conducive environment as one that contains a large number of individuals, will seek to engage participants in adversarial debate and move them away from collaborative discussion. Empowerment and agency through participation in literacy events, therefore, allows adolescent females to enact change internally by crafting new self identities, or externally by changing aspects of the sociocultural environment.
! ! 222 Final R eflections The purpose of my study was to describe and explain selected adolescent females' perspectives on identity through participating in an after school book clu b. As I write these final pages of what has been a six year journey, I begin a brief reflection on that journey by considering the extent to which I was able to fulfill that stated purpose. At the heart of the purpose statement are the words "adolescen t females' perspectives" and "book club." From the beginning of my doctoral studies, I knew adolescent females and reading would be the central focus of my dissertation. I retained that focus through years of part time coursework as I continued my employ ment as a full time middle school language arts teacher. I believe it is because of remaining connected to these adolescents that the book club was successful and the study findings relevant contributions to the field of adolescent literacy. Theoretical coursework by night, pedagogical practice by day the interweaving of the two formed a tapestry of the researcher I am today. Grounded in understanding and valuing adolescents, knowing that it is only through listening to their voices that will result in significant research, I am the better researcher because of these adolescents. The year long sabbatical I have taken in order to complete this dissertation has afforded me the opportunity to delve deeply into the data I have collected from the book club s tudy. And as I read and re read the words of the book club girls, and listened to hours of interview and discussion transcripts during commutes to and from the university, I thought about females and identity. I heeded the words of professors on my docto ral committee and listened to what the data the girls would tell me. Naturally, as a reflective researcher, I thought often about my own identity as a female. As the girls in
! ! 223 the study reported being changed as a result of participating in the book c lub, I too, have experienced a change in my own self identity. With the aid of my doctoral committee, I have persevered not only in knowing how to engage in qualitative research, but also how to be a qualitative researcher. This shift from doing to becom ing; from activity to identity was neither linear nor complete. I close this study knowing that with each future study I engage in I will continue to adopt new facets of my self identity as a researcher. An appropriate and necessary close to this text is with focusing once again on the girls in the study. The five members of The Super Girl Nerd Squad breathed life into the equation I proposed in Chapter Two. Elements of peer interactions, increased autonomy through choice, physical movement, and relation ship building activities with teachers added together equal book clubs in which meet the unique developmental needs of adolescents (Figure 6).
! ! 224 Figure 6: Components of Effective Book Clubs Meet Developmental Needs of Adolescent s One hour each week for eight weeks, Sarah, Bianca, Lacey, Katie, Rachel (and I) gathered at a picnic table to eat pizza and talk about books. What the girls gave was rich data with significant implications for classroom practice. While the setting and the pizza contributed to the relaxed feeling and so added to the sense of community, the elements in the above equation can easily be duplicated in the classroom. What the girls received from participating in the book club is equally significant. The gi rls left the book club having had the opportunity to engage in an enjoyable book related experience something they all reported as new. The girls also left the book club being able to engage in rich explorations about who they were as adolescent females engaging in those explorations through the safety of book characters, and within an open and accepting "6/+(%70! 8)9#:#*' ;#07'()*+6(& 3 <1(0.( *=! >%'(9('(#+! ?('6! @#7%6#$+ -*%$#7+#.! >1')*):/! '6$)1=6! A6)(%# ! "##$ -*'#$7%'()*+ ! <))B!A01C+
! ! 225 atmosphere. I began the book club study intent on highlighting and valuing the voices of adolescent females, and I hope I have honored these girls by doing so. I have not reduced these girls to simplistic, shallow categories of either Alpha Girls or Ophelias. Sarah, Bianca, Lacey, Katie, and Rachel have taught me that adolescent females today are so much more layered and complex. They may express sel f identities reflecting Kindlon's Alpha Girls or Pipher's Ophelias, or both depending on the nature of the environment. Through books and small group discussions, adolescent females have the opportunity to explore and express those varied self identities.
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245 Appendix A Book Club Flyer !"#$%&'())*'+$,-. ' ' ! ! ! ! "#$%&!&'(!)$$*!+,%# ! ! -'(.(/ !! ("/012011"3$'43#* 5)"1'6),#'70$$)8'9 2: ';#3<0';"#$7#"01<%' ' =>2320'?)3<'@AAB'10C2'2)'2)D' #03<"1;B'8#"2"1;B'31<'/:322"1;'3-),2 ' >2,3#2'+3,%0836E -))*%F''G0&$$'D0 02')1/0'3'800*'7)# ' 012(/!! HIJK'LD'2)'MIJK'LD 9'800*%F''N120#0%20
246 Appendix B Informed Consent Form Parental Permission to Participate in Research Information for parents to consider before allowing their child to take part in this research study IRB Study # The following information is being presented to help you/y our child decide whether or not your child wants to be a part of a research study. Please read carefully. Anything you do not understand, ask the investigato r. We are asking you to allow your child to take part in a research study that is called: Girls' Id entities in a Book Club The person who is in charge of this research study is Holly S. Atkins, M.A. of the University of South Florida. This person is called the Principal Investigator. She is being guided in this research by Dr. Jane Applegate. However, other research staff may be involved and can act on behalf of the person in charge. The research will be done at Bicentennial Park on State Road 699 (Tom Stuart Causeway) in Madeira Beach. Should your child take part in this study? This form tells you a bout this research study. You can decide if you want your child to take part in it. This form explains: Why this study is being done. What will happen during this study and what your child will need to do. Whether there is any chance your child might expe rience potential benefits from being in the study. The risks of having problems because your child is in this study. Before you decide: Read this form. Have a friend or family member read it. Talk about this study with the person in charge of the study or the person explaining the study. You can have someone with you when you talk about the study.
247 Talk it over with someone you trust. Find out what the study is about. You may have questions this form does not answer. You do not have to guess at things you don't understand. If you have questions, ask the person in charge of the study or study staff as you go along. Ask them to explain things in a way you can understand. Take your time to think about it. It is up to you. If you choose to let your child be in the study, then you should sign th is form. If you do not want your child to take part in this study, you should not sign the form. Why is this research being done? The purp ose of this study is to describe and explain selected adolescent girls' persp ectives on identity through a book club. The research will be carried out through pre and post study interviews and eight weekly, one hour book discussion meetings. Other researchers have used similar procedures to study adolescent females in book clubs This study builds on that existing research. Why is your child being asked to take part? We are asking your child to take part in this research study because she is an adolescent female. We want to find out more about the experiences of adolescent fem ales when they participate in book clubs. What will happen during this study? Your chi ld will be asked to spend 8 weeks in this study. During this time period, your child will be asked to engage in a pre study individual interview, followed by eight weekl y one hour book meetings, and concluding with a post study individual interview. The pre and post study interviews, as well as the eight weekly one hour book meetings are being performed strictly as part of the research. A study visit is one your child w ill have with the person in charge of the study or study staff. Your child will need to come for ten study visits in all. St udy visits will take about 30 minutes (individual interviews) and one hour (weekly book discussion meetings) Below is a timetab le for the study: Y our child will be asked: To be interviewed individually at the beginning and end of the study. The questions asked during these interviews will be about her views on herself, reading, and the book club. The purpose of these individual interviews is to provide the researcher with an understanding of who she is and the role of reading in her life. These interviews will be recorded using a voice activated digital recorder. To read at home a book she and the other participants will select and write her thoughts down about the book in a journal she will bring to the weekly meetings. The
248 purpose of the journal writing is to provide the researcher with information about her individual reactions to the book. To attend eight weekly, one hour b ook discussion meetings and share her thoughts/ideas about the book. The purpose of these meetings is to provide the researcher with information about individual and group experiences of adolescent females in an all girls book club. These discussions will be recorded using a voice activated digital recorder. Audio recordings of the individual interviews and book club discussions are essential to data collection. Participants will be asked to select a pseudonym to ensure confidentiality. This information will be known only to me and the chair of my dissertation committee. Prior to data transcription, the digital recorder containing the electronic data will be kept in a locked file cabinet in a locked office. Electronic files transferred from the digital v oice recorder will be stored on a password protected computer on a secured server which is backed up nightly. Per University of South Florida requirements, data will be kept for five years at which time the informed consent forms and the hard copies of al l transcripts will be shredded. Digital files will be deleted and erased from the computer hard drive. What other choices do you have if you decide not to let your child to take part? If you decide not to let your child take part in this study, that is o kay. Instead of being in this research study your child can choose not to participate. Will your child be paid for taking part in this study? We will not pay your child for the time she volunteers while being in this study. What will it cost you to let your child take part in this study? It will not cost you anything to let your child take part in the study. The st udy will pay the cost s of: Books Journals Refreshments during book club meetings What are the potential benefits to your child if you let him / her take part in this study? The potential benefits to your child are: Being provided with additional training by a skilled teacher in an informal, small group rather than a formal classroom setting. Reading and discussing engaging group selected nove ls in a relaxed, off campus setting with the potential benefit of having fun with their peers.
249 What are the risks if your child takes part in this study? There are no known risks to those who take part in this study. What will we do to keep your child's study records private? There are federal laws that say we must keep your child's study records private. We will keep the records of this study private by keeping records in a secured place according to University of South Florida policies. Transcripts wi ll be shredded and disposed of five years after the end of the study. We will keep the records of this study confidential by having participants select pseudonyms that will be used in all aspects of the study. However, certain people may need to see your child's study records. By law, anyone who looks at your child's records must keep them completely confidential. The only people who will be allowed to see these records are: Certain government and university people who need to know more about the study. For example, individuals who provide oversight on this study may need to look at your child's records. These include the University of South Florida Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the staff that work for the IRB. Individuals who work for USF that provide other kinds of oversight to research studies may also need to look at your child's records. Other individuals who may look at your child's records include: agencies of the federal, state, or local government that regulates this research. This i ncludes the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Office for Human Research Protections They also need to make sure that we are protecting your child's rights and safety. We may publish what we learn from this study. If we do, we will no t let anyone know your child's name. We will not publish anything else that would let people know who your child is. What happens if you decide not to let your child take part in this study? You should only let your child take part in this study if both of you want to. You or child should not feel that there is any pressure to take part in the study to please the study investigator or the research staff. If you decide not to let your child take part: Your child will not be in trouble or lose any rights he/she would normally have. You can decide after signing this informed consent document that you no longer want your child to take part in this study. We will keep you informed of any new developments which might affect your willingness to allow your child to continue to participate in the study. However, you can decide you want your child to stop taking part in the study for any reason at any time. If you decide you want your child to stop taking part in the study, tell the study staff as soon as you can
250 Even if you want your child to stay in the study, there may be reasons we will need to take him/her out of it. Your child may be taken out of this study if: Your child is not coming for the study visits when scheduled. You can get the answers to your que stions, concerns, or complaints. If you have any questions, concerns or complaints about this study, call Holly S. Atkins at (727) 415 5429. If you have questions about your child's rights, general questions, complaints, or issues as a person taking part i n this study, call the Division of Research Integrity and Compliance of the University of South Florida at (813) 974 9343. If your child experiences an adverse event or unanticipated problem call Holly S. Atkins at (727) 415 5429. Consent for Child to Par ticipate in this Research Study It is up to you to decide whether you want your child to take part in this study. If you want your child to take part, please read the statements below and sign the form if the statements are true. I freely give my consent to let my child take part in this study. I understand that by signing this form I am agreeing to let my child take part in research. I have received a copy of this form to take with me. ________________________________________________ Signature of Pa rent o f Child Taking Part in Study Date ________________________________________________ Printed Name of Parent of Child Taking Part in Study ________________________________________________ Signature of Parent o f Child Taking Part in Study Date _______ _________________________________________ Printed Name of Parent of Child Taking Part in Study Signatures of both parents are required unless one parent is not reasonably available, deceased, unknown, legally incompetent, or only one parent has sole legal responsibility for the care and custody of the child. When enrolling a child participant, if only one signature is obtained, the person obtaining the consent must check on of the reasons listed below: The signature of only one parent was obtained becaus e: The other parent is not reasonable available. Explain: The other parent is unknown. The other parent is legally incompetent.
251 The parent who signed has sole legal responsibility for the care and custody of the child. Statement of Person O btaining Informed Consent I have carefully explained to the person taking part in the study what he or she can expect. ________________________ ___________________ Signature of Person Obtaining Informed Consen t Date ___________________________________ ________ Printed Name of Person Obtaining Informed Consent
252 Appendix C Amelia Bloomer Project 2011 List Introduction Feminism is alive and thriving, a movement with a rich history that constantly gets reshaped and redefined. Courtney E. Martin and J. Courtney Sullivan, Click p.17 As we honor strong, powerful girls and the books that inspire them, the Amelia Bloomer Project celebrates 2010, a year that has sounded a call to action for multiple generations of feminists to work together and reflected diversity of culture and format. We rejoice in stellar picture books with feminist content, welcome newly represented formats of zine, stencil and coloring books, and appreciate graphic novels that explore new visions for girls and women with a v ariety of artistic styles. These books encourage girls and young women to love themselves for who they are, overcoming issues of body image to create new cultural contexts that honor the beauty of all girls and women. Infinitely resilient, women and girls survive heartbreaking conditions to provide messages of hope to us all. We reimage our herstory through books that excite us with previously unknown jewels of information and empower us with historical fiction that challenges the past in which it was set a nd our own thoughts and actions now. Dystopian futures comment on practices around the world today and encourage us to change our behavior as well as inspiring us with sheroes who overcome unimagined odds. Girls and women embrace non traditional roles that empower them and us. i nstinctively, we get that the scariest thing is not dying but not trying at all. Eve Ensler, I Am An Emotional Creature p.110 !"#$%'()$*'++,$-,+.#/0$(1$2),0$+3$0"#$4#&(5(10$!)16$4+,/#$+3$0"#$%,(/)5$7(8,),9$ %11+/()0(+5:1$;+/( )'$<#12+51(8('(09$<+=5>$!)8'#?$!"#$/+&&(00##$&8#,1$),#$%5@#')$;#&(3#,+A$ B),1")''$C(10,(/0$7(8,),9$DBEFG$*#0"$H'1"#I169A$ /+ J /")(,A$ !='),#$ K+=509$H33(/#$+3$L>=/)0(+5$DK%F G$ C)5)$K)&28#''A$K+,M)''(1 J *#50+5$K+=509$-=8'(/$7(8,),9$DH
253 Browning, Diane. Signed, Abiah Rose. 2010. Unpaged. Tricycle Press/ Random House, $15.99 (978 1 58246 311 7). PreS Gr. 3. Although she is a talented young artist, Abiah Rose is told that serious pain ting is "not girl's work." Undaunted, she secretly finds a way to sign her name to her art, while dreaming of an independent future. Bunnell, Jacinta and Julie Novak girls are not chicks coloring book. 2009. Unpaged. PM Press, $10.00 (978 1 60486 076 4). PreS up. A laugh out loud coloring book in which each panel offers a different vision of empowerment for girls and womyn of all ages. Nonfiction Annino, Jan Godown. She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader. Illus. by Lisa Des imini. 2010. Unpaged. National Geographic Children's Books, $17.95 (978 1 4263 0592 4). K Gr6. Betty Mae Jumper became the first woman to be elected tribal leader for the Seminoles. She is also a storyteller, a nurse, an alligator wrestler, and helped to s tart a newspaper. Brown, Tami Lewis Soar, Elinor!. Illus. by Franois Roca. 2010. Unpaged. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16.99 (978 0 374 37115 9). K Gr.3. When others say girls can't fly, Elinor's courageous spirit leads her to defy her critics, completing a da re that shows the world what a girl can do. Middle Readers Fiction Coombs, Kate. T he Runaway Dragon. 2009. 292 p. Farr ar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 ( 97 8 0 3743 6361 1). Gr. 3 5. Princess Meg's dragon escapes from the palace grounds. Meg and her scrappy band of friends set out to find the dragon and encounter many adventures along the way. Yolen, Jane Foiled. Illus. by Mike Cavallaro. 2010. 160p. First Second, $15.99 (978 1 5964 3279 6). Gr. 6 12. Ace fencer Aliera bravely takes up the mantel of the wor ld's defender. Nonfiction Rothery, Louise Lest We Forget: A Salute to the Women Who Entered Corporate Ameri ca Without a Road Map. 2009. 56 p. Seawordy, $12. 00 (978 0 615 30683 4). Gr. 4 up. W himsical line drawings share messages about sexis m and discrimi nation Schraff, Anne Ellen Ochoa: Astronaut and Inventor. 2010. 128p. Enslow, $31.93 (978 0 7660 3163 0). Gr.4 7. Breaking racial and gender barriers, Ellen Ochoa becomes the first Latina astronaut and continues to inspire youth across America today. You ng Adult Fiction Chevalier, Tracy. Remarkable Creatures. 2010. 320p. Dutton, $26.95 (978 0 525 95145 2). Gr.9 up. Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot forge an unusual partnership as they struggle for recognition of fossil discoveries in a scientific communit y disinclined to acknowledge women. Doctorow, Cory For the Win. 2010. 475p. Tom Doherty Associates, $17.99 (978 0 7653 2311 8). Gr.7 up.
254 The sweatshop workers of the virtual world unite with one another and with traditional workers across continents and l anguages to fight for better conditions. Oliveira, Robin My Name is Mary Sutter. 2010. 364p. Penguin/ Viking, $26.95 (978 0 670 02167 3). Gr.10 up. Mary Sutter's indomitable determination to become a surgeon interweaves with a vivid account of the grizzly realities of the Civil War. Nasrin, Taslima Revenge. Translated by Honor Moore. 2010. 176p. Feminist Press, $15.95 (978 155861659 2). Gr. 10 up. By taking control of her own body, Jhumur regains the confidence and independence she experienced before her marriage to a traditional Muslim man. Okorafor, Nnedi Who Fears Death. 2010. 386p. Daw Books, $24.95 (978 0 7564 0617 2). Gr. 11 up. In post apocalyptic Sudan, a young sorceress overcomes the stain of the genocidal rape from which she was conceived to re write relations between races and sexes. Oron, Judie Cry of the Giraffe. 2010. 190 p. Annick Press, 12.95. (978 1 55451 271 3). Gr. 10 up. B ased on a true story Wuditu, an Ethiopian Jewish girl endures life in a refugee camp, slavery, and rape and survi ves. Nonfiction Campbell, Susan. Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, a nd the American Girl. 2009 215p. Beacon Press, $24.95 (978 0 8070 1066 2). Gr.9 up. Susan Campbell uses humor and insight to describe her unlikely journey from fundament alist Christianity to feminism.
255 Appendix D Amelia Bloomer Project Book Criteria During the past five years of selecting appropriate books for the Amelia Bloomer Project of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association, member s have determined that the four criteria are vital to the books selected: 1. Significant feminist content 2. Excellence in writing 3. Appealing format 4. Age appropriateness for young readers The qualities for each will be taken in order. Significant Femin ist Content: This may be the most difficult to determine because the definition of feminism is so simple: Feminism is the belief that women should be equal to men. Some feminists add to this by stating that feminism is the doctrine advocating social and po litical rights for women equal to men, including overthrowing institutions that oppress women, celebrating the creation of a female "counterculture," or supporting the belief that women have a special relationship to nature and a responsibility to act as c aretakers of the environment. With the current trend of using strong female protagonists in fiction, a more specific explanation of feminism may be in order. Feminist books for young readers must move beyond merely "spunky" and "feisty" young women, beyond characters and people who fight to protect themselves without furthering rights for other women. Feminist books show women overcoming the obstacles of intersecting forces of race, gender, and class, actively shaping their destinies. They break bonds force d by society as they defy stereotypical expectations and show resilience in the face of societal strictures. In addition, feminist books show women solving problems, gaining personal power, and empowering others. They celebrate girls and women as a vibrant vital force in the world. These books explain that there is a gender issue; they don't leave the reader to guess. A book with a strong female character that does not demonstrate that an inequality exists may not be a feminist book. Strong female characte rs may be plucky, perseverant, courageous, feisty, intelligent, spirited, resourceful, capable, and independent but the book's presentation may still not be feminist.
256 Suggested Criteria: 1. Does the book show an awareness of gender based inequalities with action to change these inequalities? 2. Do girls and women take on nontraditional roles? If so, does the book point out that these roles are in opposition to society's expectations, that the person is breaking new ground? 3. Do females blaze new trails fo r themselves and those who follow them? (Again, does the book point that out?) 4. Do females use power for purposeful action, empowering others? 5. Does the book reflect female opportunities (or the lack of them), inequalities, and non traditional roles in the era in which the book is set? 6. Has the protagonist grown in a positive manner, or does she stay dependent on others? 7. Does the girl or woman in the book depend on men to support her, or does she gain power through personal effort? 8. Is the protag onist the active party, or does she simply react to situations? 9. Is the protagonist's voice silenced? Does she become "squelched" between the beginning and the ending of the book? If so, does she ever regain her voice? 10. Do descriptions show the charac ter of the person, or do they concentrate on attractive personal appearances? 11. Is there an emphasis on male activities, male photographs, etc.? 12. Is the word "feminism" used in the book? Is the approach positive to feminism? Excellence in Writing: Lit erary quality can be very subjective, yet it is vital to the success of the book. The book must appeal to young readers, but beyond that it must follow some criteria of good writing. Fiction: 1. Is the characterization shown through action and dialog? Are the characterizations developed or flat? 2. Are the transitions strong? Are there holes in the plot? Does the ending satisfy?
257 3. Do all the scenes advance the plot? Is the plot overly predictable? 4. Is the book authentic and consistent the setting, char acters, the plot? Informational Books: 1. Is the information in the book accurate? 2. How timely is the book? Will it retain its timeliness? 3. Is there diversity of people in the illustrations? 4. Is the writing objective, or does the author provide su bjects with feelings and attitudes that are not substantiated? 5. Is the supportive material (index, glossary, bibliography, resource lists, etc.) appropriate and up to date? 6. Is the author successful in limiting the scope of the subject? 7. Is the mate rial presented in logical sequence? Books in General: 1. Is the book didactic? Does it seem to teach rather than entertain? 2. How well is language used metaphor, analogy, pacing, etc.? Appealing Format: 1. Is the format non confusing, with illustrations c lose to related text? 2. Are the illustrations posed? Do they support and/or extend the text? 3. Are the captions clear and accurate? 4. Is the design inviting? Does the appearance of the pages invite the reader into the book? 5. Is the book something that young people will want to read instead of a reference work?
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`!<13>%2/+8!N9:@$$!O$PI ; 9 ; K9:$ ; !99P9 ; #M!9 ; K9:$ ; 99P9 ; #Q@!L+@!P ; 9"!<2'+-/%!'7!23+//!.-+4%!'7!,-77/+/&2!/23&-18! %'1-*48!* &,!/,>1*2-'&*4!)*1E.+'>&,%!,/0'&%2+*2/!23/!%'4-,*+-25!,>+-&.!23/!A+-*&.4/! <3-+2(*-%2!D*12'+5!%2+-E/!*&,!7-+/@! ! 6&;'.5)*9.:%&/*<=((&>>, !V&*3-2*a%!R'T/&!Y-,,4/@!"HH:@!C*++5!U@!V)+*0%8! [&1@MV0>4/2!G''E%8!!N9:@$#!O$PI ; H ; I9H$ ; #KI9 ; :M!H ; I9H$ ; #KI9 ; IQ@!L+@!P ; 9"![ &! ,/7-*&1/!'7!2+*,-2-'&8!V&*3-2*!-%!,/2/+0-&/,!2'!13''%/!(3'0!%3/!(-44!0*++5!>%-&.!*! +-,,4/!-&!*!+>.@! 1'&(#%.(()*?.'';, !R-&2/+%0-23@!"HH:@!J"J6@!C*+6/+='44-&%8!N9:@$$!OH ; H: ; HI$HJ9 ; "Q@! L+@!P ; 9"@! !R3/&!23-+2//& ; 5/*+ ; '4,!(-213 ; -& ; 2+*-&-&.!A-77*&5!*22+*12%!23/!b>&,5-&.! 4'T/c!'7!23/!R-&2/+%0-238!23/!%6-+-2!'7!(-&2/+8!23/!b(//!)-.!3*.c!0>%2!>%/!*44!3/+!(-2%! *&,!6'(/+%!2'!>&,'!23/!3*+0!3/+!*12-'&%!3*T/!1*>%/,!*&,!)+-&.!)*1E!%6+-&.8!)/7'+/! -2Z%!2''!4*2/@ !!G''E4-%2!<2*++/,!Y/T-/(@ 6%.(%)*@&(%04'&, !]'5*4!B*+E8!d*&.'!<(//2@!"HH:@!"#H6@!C56/+-'&8!N9#@$$!OH ; PI:I ; JI#P ; KQ@!L+@!P ; 9H@!!A3-+2//& ; 5/*+ ; '4,!e//2*!7-.32%!2'!7-&,!*!)*4*&1/!)/2(//&!3/+!f*%2! [&,-*&!2+*,-2-'&*4!4-7/!*&,!3/+!bR/%2/+&c!-,/*4%!'7!7>+23/+-&.!/ ,>1*2-'&!*&,!3/+! 13'-1/%!'7!(3/&!*&,!(3'0!2'!0*++5@ 9#<&=:%("/)*A&/.(, !A3/!1+/2!_&,/+!d5!
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
261 Appendix F Initial Interview Protocol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
263 Appendix G Sample Interview Transcription and Analysis Participant Name Interviewer Question/ Participant Response Meaning Units High lighted Theme of Meaning Unit Emergent Central Theme Emergent Code Interviewer How would you describe yourself? Bianca I 'm a tree hugger. I like science and that kind of stuff. But I'm not very linear. I like to think outside the box. Bianca sees herself as an independent thinker. Adolescent girls see themselves as independent thinkers. Self Identity: Independent Thinker Interviewer Can you give me an example of thinking outside the box? Bianca Solving problems in ways people haven't solved them before. Bianca sees herself as an independent thinker Adolescent girls see themselves as independent thinkers. Self Iden tity: Independent Thinker Interviewer Can you give me an example of when that happened? Bianca (pauses) Let me think about that. That's a hard question. (pauses) Well, every day. Like on a small scale, every day. A general one, civil disobe dience, Nelson Mandella and South Africa. How he solved his problems he tried to solve his problems by not obeying a law he thought was unjust. Like that. Bianca sees herself as an independent thinker Adolescent girls see themselves as independent th inkers. Self Identity: Independent Thinker Interviewer Oh, interesting. Were you learning about that
264 in social studies? Bianca No. Interviewer How do you know about that? Bianca I justI think at my school last year, they talked a lot ab out him. Interviewer Okay. So, how would you describe what life is like for you right now? Bianca Very busy. I teach kids martial arts for about five hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My brother has baseball practices, and his games go on fo r hours. And I have two siblings: a brother and a sister. My brother's off the wall crazy and my sister is an 8 year old so that's enough said right there. Bianca sees herself as a leader, mentor, authority figure. Adolescent girls see themselves as l eaders, mentors, authority figures. Self Identity: Leader/Mentor Interviewer Where are you in the orderare you the oldest, the middle? Bianca I'm the oldest. Interviewer Do you think that makes a difference where you are in the birth order? Bianca Yes. Interviewer What's it like for the oldest? Bianca I usually have to babysit my brother and sister. I get to like if my mom's not home I make all the decisions. And sometimes if they can't find my mom they come to me and ask if they can do something. And I say, I don't know, tell mom. And they're like, I can't find mom. And I'm like, well do something about it. Bianca sees herself as a leader, mentor, authority figure. Adolescent girls see themselves as leaders, mentors, a uthority figures. Self Identity: Leader/Mentor
! "#$ ! ! Appendix H Example of Researcher Reflective Jo urnal Entries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
! "#$ ! ! Appendix I Peer Review Form %&! '()*+!,-./+-! 0(1*!2*)1*3!(2!(!4**)!)*1-*5*)6/782-3*!)*1-*5*)!9/)!:3/;*2<*+8! =-);2>!%3*+8-8?!@A4;/)(8-/+!-+!(!B//C!D;7E&!E?! F/;;?!GH!:8C-+2H !!%+!80-2!)/;*&!%!0(1*! 5/)C*3!5-80!80*!)*2*()<0*)!-+!<(4(<-8-*2!2 7<0!(2!)*1-*5-+.!8)(+2<)-482!(+36/)! (22-28-+.!-+!-3*+8-9?-+.!*I*).-+.!-227*2H G-.+*3J! KG-.+(87)*!/+!L-;*MNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN O(8*J! PP6Q6"RPR NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
268 Appendix J Categories and Codes Perceptions of Identity Socially Constructed and Expressed Explored and Expressed in Social World of Text Developmental in Nature Expression Perception Mismatch Influences on Self Identity Expression Physical Attribu tes of Group Physical Size Large Physical Size Small Physical Size Not Important Attitudinal Attributes "Perception" Critical "Open and Accepting" Prior Knowledge of Self Identity Not Important
269 Appendix K Sample Participant Reader Response Journal p. 8 13 this fight sounds just like mine with my mom! p. 14 I wonder if that's true? "But you might have given it to me even if you did want it. Just because I asked." P. 26 The whole "Geek Club" sounds just like my friends club she started with her friends at school! p. 27 I wonder why o ur school doesn't have a debate club p. 27 Sounds like a weird thing to debate over (membership) p. 27 Debating isn't always geeky! Everyone does it! p. 27 "forensics" does sound a little geeky p. 28 I like how they describe the numbers of the Geography Bowl! p. 31 That's really sadI hope that never happens to me p. 33 Awthat's so nice of Matthew to come help her! p. 35 So they plan to gain pounds/ Don't most want to lose pounds for the next school year?! p. 40 Sounds like most boys about rules p. 41 Wow!...Didn't see that coming! p. 46 That's how everyone should be! p. 52 M atthew plays soccer! She has good taste! Sports player! p. 53 54 Smart! Less work of the watchers! p. 59 They sure say "nimrod" a lot p. 62 I don't know if I should think the letter's sweetor scary p. 69 It's so funny how guys make thing s up just to hold your hand! p. 72 She can make that long of a list in her mind in 2.8 seconds?! Wish I could do that! p. 85 The 3 rd paragraph I like how they described boysvery thought out! p. 101 Elizabeth and Alpha don't sound like a good couple
270 p. 105 "Lots of girls don't notice when they are in this situation. They are so focused on their boyfriends that they don't r emember they had a life at all before their romances, so they don't become upset that the boyfriend isn't interested." V ERY TRUE! p. 107 How dare he blow her off for Alpha!
About the Author Holly S. Atkins received both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in English Education from the University of South Florida. She worked for 15 years as a middle school reading and language arts teacher, during which ti me she served as the cooperating teacher for interns and the site based coach for new teachers. In 2001, she became a National Board Certified Teacher in early ad olescence/English language arts. She has served as the Co Director for the Tampa Bay Area Wr iting Project, a local site of the National Writing Project since 2005. She served for three years on the board of ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English) and has presented at several state and national conferences. She has also served as an adjunct instructor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg College and Saint Leo University where she currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Education.
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A case study of adolescent females' perceptions of identity in an after-school book club
h [electronic resource] /
by Holly Atkins.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 283 pages.
(Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: Abstract Reading is a perennial educational hot topic but now extends for beyond early literacy to the secondary level. Reading researchers are growing in our knowledge of how to reach and teach struggling adolescent readers yet too often success in literacy is measured solely by performance on standardized tests. Literacy is seen on one hand as a one-dimensional set of skills students need to possess to be successful in school and their future workplaces. A more expansive view of the importance of literacy and what it means to adolescent females' growth as individuals and members of communities is needed. This study focused on selected adolescent girls' perceptions of identity through reading, responding, and discussing literature featuring strong female protagonists. Semi-structured interviews conducted with each of the female participants at the beginning and end of the study, reader response journals in which participants composed weekly responses to their reading, transcripts of the weekly book discussions, field notes, and entries in a researcher reflective journal form the data for this study, emphasizing the focus on the meaning these individuals brought to the phenomena studied: identity exploration within literacy events. This study addressed questions of the how and why of a literary event, and involved a variety of data, thereby making a case study methodology an appropriate choice. Selected participants were the focus of individual case studies and the book club itself was the focus of an additional case study. Self-identity statements and background information gathered on each of the three case study participants helped shape portraits of these adolescent girls, whose perspectives on their own identities were both convergent and divergent. The same proved true when addressing the two exploratory questions: The participants appeared to hold identical perspectives on identity, yet stated unique, varied perspectives on environmental elements influencing their self-identity expression. All three case study participants viewed identity as a developing, evolving process highly influenced by societal standards and expectations especially for females. The girls also saw the social environment as affecting identity in the frequent mismatch occurring between what the individual perceives as his or her self-identity being expressed and how others in the environment perceive the identity. Psychosocial theories of human development acknowledge that an individual's identity is both located within and without. The participants in the book club all shared this perception of identity as a sociocultural construct. However, the girls' diverse self-identity statements and range of perspectives indicate the need for a new model of female adolescent identity development. This new model needs to reflect girls and their sociocultural worlds of today. Finally, the experiences of the five girls in the book club study indicate the common misperceptions existing concerning the nature of adolescent identity. Again, unlike Erickson's concept of identity as undeveloped in adolescence and shifting with each storm and crisis, the girls in the study indicate the need for a different perspective. Classrooms are unfortunately often bereft of the type of space provided for the girls in the book club. Within this space the girls engaged in deep, thoughtful, critical responses to literature while expressing their self-identities and exploring other's identities. As adolescents, these five girls were provided space by and with a trusted adult to engage in what is acknowledged to be a critical element in human development: identity exploration. To meet the needs of all students, teachers should arrange discussions in both small group and whole class structures. However, successful discussions those which offer students rich opportunities to engage with text, make connections, derive personal meaning, explore and express self-identity these discussions will only occur when the teacher has considered not only the physical environment but also the attitudinal environment.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Applegate, Jane .
Sociocultural Learning Theory
Young Adult Literature
x Language Arts Middle School education Education, General
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.