Faculty- Student Conference Collaborative Research in Education Award


Name: Kaitlyn Thiede

University: Eastern Washington University

Major: Elementary Education with Literacy Endorsement- Junior

Advisor: Shelly Shaffer

Title:  Women in Disguise in YA Fiction

Description of Project:

This project is a case study of young adult (YA) texts containing female characters who disguise themselves as males. The study will investigate the following research questions:

1.            What causes female characters to disguise themselves?

2.            What are the effects of female characters dressing up as males in YA texts?

3.            What genres of YA are most likely to contain female characters in disguise?

The research will be conducted alongside Dr. Shelly Shaffer, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at Eastern Washington University. We will use qualitative methods for analysis. The research will include close reading of each YA text that is selected using discourse (Gee, 2014) and document analysis (Merriam, 2009; Stake, 2010). Each book will be coded using open-coding methods (Merriam, 2009; Stake, 2010). The study will use the critical theory framework, which focuses on how injustice and subjugation shape people’s experiences and understanding (Patton, 2002). The issues of power and justice interact with gender, class, and other social institutions in the texts (Kincheloe & McLaren, 2000).

The concept for the research evolved from the observation in our “YA Literature Study and Use” course that women in young adult texts often disguise themselves as males. We became interested in investigating how and why these characters disguise themselves and present this information to K-12 teachers who use young adult literature (6th-12th grades) and teacher educators (college teachers who prepare future teachers).


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