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Title: Reconfiguring the reader : convergence and participation in modern young adult fantasy fiction
Authors: Fenech, Giuliana
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis explores digital-age literary and reading practices as they were influenced by participatory culture at the turn of the century. Participatory culture is analysed here through the work of Henry Jenkins, Hans Heino Ewers, Margaret Mackey and Katy Varnelis and is recognised as one in which individuals are socially connected to each other in an environment that offers support for creating and sharing interpretations and original works. It has relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic participation, and fosters the sense of community growing around people’s common interests and ideologies, as expressed through performative manifestations such as gaming and fandom. Because juvenile fantasy fiction generally, and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (1997-2007) specifically, were at the centre of significant developments in response to participatory culture, Rowling’s books are used as a case study on the basis of which changing practices of reading, writing and interpretation of story, principally by children and young people, are mapped and appraised. One aim of this thesis is to evaluate how far participatory culture has affected what it means to be a reader of a text that exists in multiple formats: how each version of the text constructs and addresses its readers/viewers/players/co-creators, and the dynamics and interdependence between the different versions. A second but related aim is to test the claims of new media theorists, including Janet Murray, Pierre Lévy and Marie-Laure Ryan, among others, to establish how far texts, readers and the processes of reading have in fact changed. Specifically, it looks at how far the promises of reader participation and co-creation have been fulfilled, especially within the genre of children’s literature.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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