Date of Award

1996

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

School

School of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Dr Brian Moon

Abstract

In recent years the representation and participation of women in the media has received a great deal of attention. So too, has the area of language and gender. Research and discussions around these two fields intersect to provide a context for this research project. Unlike any study located to date, this study provides a theoretical exploration of practices girls employ when reading Dolly, an Australian teen magazine aimed at adolescent females. The project involves 11 year-eight girls from two metropolitan schools and aims to answer questions regarding the reading practices they employ when reading Dolly, the meanings they make with magazine, and what their engagement with the magazine reveals about their critical reading skills. It also aims to explore any significance the reading Dolly may have for the construction of adolescent subjectivity. Literature from the areas of women in the media, and of language, gender and reading inform this project. Post-structural concepts of ideology, subjectivity, discourse, resistance and critical reading provide a theoretical background. The research involved the participants in group interviews and diary-writing activities over five weeks and the resulting observations are interpreted in the light of post-structural concepts mentioned above. The observations reveal that while the magazine presents limited and limiting images and versions of adolescent femininity, the girls display sophisticated reading strategies which enable them to read discriminatively. They also demonstrate the ability to be critical of the magazine as a text, a product, and, to some degree, as an ideological force. With a fundamental focus on reading, the observations and interpretations made in this document have implications for the treatment of popular cultural texts in the classroom and also for the consideration of 'female' texts and female reading practices.

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