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Dissertation Information for Joan Bessman Taylor

- Joan Bessman Taylor

- Ph.D.

- Library and Information Science

- University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (USA) (2007)

- Carole L. Palmer

- Warden Boyd Rayward
- Christine A. Jenkins
- Chip Bruce

MPACT Status: Fully Complete

Title: When adults talk in circles: Book groups and contemporary reading practices

Abstract: This dissertation is a qualitative study of six open-to-the-public adult book discussion groups who read works by African American authors, contemporary fiction and nonfiction, the Great Books, literary fiction, mysteries, and science fiction and meet in libraries, bookstores, and other public spaces. Drawing on fieldnotes from participant observation of 224 meetings, meeting transcripts, group handouts and email correspondence, it examines the effect of discussion on the act of reading. It investigates how book groups talk about their reading, what emerges from discussion of shared works, the role the text plays in such discussion, and what book discussion reveals about the interests, habits and needs of readers.

Analysis revealed that group reading is a prolonged event, a complex continuum necessitating a new metaphor of reading - Reading is a circle. Readers anticipate reading a book, they read the book, reflect on the book and anticipate group discussion, participate in discussion, and reflect on the book and discussion after the group has met. Each of these events shapes future occurrences of that event or others in the continuum.

Fundamental to book group discussion is the selection of "good" books. Tracing representations of discussibility, the idea that some books are better suited than others for promoting discussion, and examining it in action through statements of book group members, the study concludes that discussibility is more than a feature of books, but a precipitate of the mixing of particular books with particular readers.

The study also finds that book groups regularly engage in two types of discussion - 'reading as dissection' and 'reading as creation'. Through the latter, i.e. by identifying gaps in the plot, suggesting additions or deletions, critiquing physical aspects of the book, and contemplating "what ifs", groups create an ideal text.

This study posits a metaphor with which to articulate the otherwise nebulous aspects of group reading, offers vocabulary for describing book group activities thereby enabling real rather than stereotypical representations on which to base expectations for club outcomes, extends reader response theory, and has professional implications for readers' advisors, literacy educators and sponsors of local and mass reading events.

MPACT Scores for Joan Bessman Taylor

A = 0
C = 0
A+C = 0
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2009-04-12 19:15:11

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Students under Joan Bessman Taylor

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