Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Contemporary street fiction is a form of literature that has been growing in popularity since the 1990s. Such novels are set in contemporary urban contexts and present the experiences of historically oppressed groups. Sold in venues such as independent bookstores, the Internet, barbershops, beauty salons, flea markets, street vendors, and churches (Hill, Pérez, & Irby, 2008; McClellan, 2011), this genre is especially popular among African American females. Because much of the scholarship concerning engagement with contemporary street fiction focuses on improving school literacy skills, the purpose of this study was to investigate readers’ responses in a book club held at a public library in Rivertown, a small southern community in the southeast region of the United States. Using a case study approach and drawing from reader response and feminist standpoint theories, this study investigated the ways in which social position and situated knowledge shaped African American women’s understandings of contemporary street fiction and how such engagement and discussion led to the articulation of standpoints. Data was collected through transcribing book club discussions and individual interviews. From the data, I found that participants used a variety of communicative strategies to interact with texts and each other. In addition, contemporary street fiction served as a catalyst for articulating the concept of a single mother’s mentality. The novels also presented opportunities for participants to revise concepts such as the American Dream and learn about social issues impacting the lives of women and children.



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Committee Chair

Bach, Jacqueline



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