Doctor of Philosophy in Library, Archival and Information Studies (PhD)
Exploring youth engagement with Internet memes, as it relates to the communication of information through storytelling
This hybrid creative study distills concepts from picturebook scholarship, and writings on audiobooks, sound semiotics, multimodality, and reading as a form of play to create a set of guiding questions for the creation of a story app called The King's Ears. Three important concepts foreground the inquiry. Firstly, picturebook stories are played multimodally through the combined contributions of words and pictures. Shaping the app's modes of sound, interaction, and animation to interrelate with the words and pictures, and with each other to tell the story was the central challenge of the app design. The second significant idea that governs this design-based approach is that children read picturebooks differently than adults do. The third principle is that the interactions, sounds, animations, and navigation of the picturebook app should be child-controlled and replayable. From a process of iterative cycles of design, enactment, analysis, and redesign to develop an original media artifact, a framework emerged that can be used to guide the development and assessment of picturebook apps, as well as sharable theories that can inform the work of other designers.
This thesis investigates the representation of systemic oppression in Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Employing Foucauldian poststructuralism and critical discourse analysis, this research identifies how the social systems of the fantasy texts construct hierarchies based on race and gender, and social norms based on sexuality and disability. Privilege and oppression are identified as the results of the relaying of power relations by social institutions through strategies such as dominant discourses. This study questions the historically understood role of children’s and fantasy literature as socialization tools, and the potential negative consequences of this.
This research investigates expressions of identity and formation of identity found in an online fanfiction forum based on the young adult novel, The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Using Wenger’s neo-Vygotskian socio-cultural learning theorem from his book, Communities of Practice I observed, then coded posts by authors and respondents using a rubric I operationalized from Wenger’s five characteristics of identity in practice. I employed a deductive coding scheme and used Wenger’s community of practice as a framework. During the coding process, I found many examples of what seem to be expressions of identity in practice and what appear to be examples of identity in formation. I discuss how this online fanfiction forum operates as a community of practice and consider how this fanfiction space informs other educational applications. There are different instructional strategies that could be gleaned from the coding and analysis process that practicing teachers and librarians could implement into their current online or offline practices. This fanfiction forum is an example of a self-selected online activity with a high level of reading and writing engagement. There are many exciting signs of educational and developmental activities occurring in this fanfiction forum, which suggests further investigation is needed.
This thesis analyzes how playfulness is expressed in eight picturebook apps available for the iPad, four of them being born-digital picturebook apps and the other four picturebooks being transmediated into apps from print counterparts. These works of digital literature, aimed at children between 3 and 8 years old, underwent a close reading through the lenses of social semiotics, as presented by Gunther Kress and Theo Van Leeuwen, and its manifestation in picturebook theory, as presented by David Lewis’ ecology of the picturebook. Playfulness was analyzed according to the three categories proposed by Nikolajeva: through the interanimation among modes, through metafiction and through performance–implicit and explicit. One born-digital and one transmediated app was selected among a sample of 100 picturebook apps as quintessential examples of that type of playfulness, although all apps manifested on different levels all kinds of playfulness. The multimodal analysis of these picturebook apps revealed that each app is unique in the way modes both individually and in combination work as a multimodal text in expressing playfulness. The different modes may work in counterpoint to generate irony, or they may complement each other building signs that are ironic in contrast with other signs inside the narrative. The inclusion of interactivity makes possible new combinations of modes that integrate reader inputs and various forms of participation. Participation is an important element in the construction of metafiction since, as interactive narratives, most texts manifest an overt recognition of the reader as a participant.The differences between born-digital and transmediated apps are subtle, but this sample suggested that the counterpart among modes is used as a playful resource more significantly in transmediated apps, while the born-digital apps count more on interactivity and performance to generate playfulness. Half of the transmediated apps manifested covert metafiction, while all of the born-digital texts manifested overt metafiction. Finally, in terms of performance, the born-digital apps showed highly theatricalized participation of the reader and also promoted reader participation in co-authoring, which was not seen in the transmediated apps.