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Title: Judging by the cover : an ethnographic study of women and reading
Author: Fischer, Susan Alice
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1989
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This research project began with the aim of assessing the impact of contemporary British feminist book publishing upon female readers. While it is important for women to have access to 'positive images' of themselves, readership is dependent upon factors beyond textual representation. The first part of this work challenges the text-bound assumptions about reading. The preoccupation with textual meaning which besets most forms of literary criticism, including the sociology of literature and feminist criticism, ignores the social construction of reading. The second part examines the way the book trade orders literary relations. Most of the material for this section comes from interviews with women working in various sectors of the feminist book world. While feminist publishing has managed to enter the mainstream to a degree and has attempted to redefine the relations between readers, writers and literary institutions, its future is uncertain in view of the increasing concentration of ownership in the book trade. The third part of this study draws on interviews with three groups of women discussing their reading. The group of schoolgirls were learning a literacy of differentiation which divided them along gender, class and ethnic lines. The group of women in Further Education were resisting a literacy of alienation which presented literacy as a series of discrete skills. Because the literacy that the group of feminist readers was developing empowers the individual to remake links between the personal and the political, I call this feminist literacy. To thrive, feminist literacy needs to go beyond personal identification and continue to participate in a larger feminist cultural and political project.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available