Throughout history, literature has played a role in creating and disseminating cultural and societal values. Young adult literature is used for both academics and pleasure, but in either case ideas about culture, gender, values, and identity are being promulgated to children whether explicitly or implicitly. Educators need to understand and value the importance of critically analyzing and discussing literature with young adolescents. Thoughtful discourse helps students think for themselves about culture, gender, values, and identity, which is critical to becoming well-informed citizens.
This study employed a mixed methods research design using content analysis to analyze gender construction in young adult Black-Eyed Susan novels. The results showed that while female characters were significantly more likely to be depicted as adventurous and decisive than male characters, both male and female characters saw an increase in being portrayed as understanding. These changes may be due to the societal changes that have affected gender ideals.
There was no statistical difference between author gender and gender construction; however, there was a statistical difference in how problems were introduced and solved by gender. Problems introduced by both male and female main characters together were significantly more likely to be solved by both characters. If a problem was introduced by a male main character, it was more likely to be solved by the male character alone. In contrast, when the problem was introduced by a female main character, it was more likely to be solved with the help of another female character.
This researcher found that gender construction is slowly changing in young adult literature. These findings are encouraging and indicate the importance of helping adolescents choose and read a wide variety of novels while engaging them in critical discourse.
|Advisor:||Dwyer, Patricia M.|
|Commitee:||Mayhill, Candice, Fenster, Mark J.|
|School:||Notre Dame of Maryland University|
|Department:||Department of Education|
|School Location:||United States -- Maryland|
|Source:||DAI-A 82/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Middle School education, Gender studies, Language arts|
|Keywords:||Gender construction, Black-Eyed Susan novels|
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