Concrete Roses: A Critical Exploration of Black Adolescent Girls' Literacy and Language Practices in an Out-of-School Street Literature Book Club

Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Information Studies


Ruth Small


Black Girlhood, Book Clubs, Digital Technologies, Hip-hop Feminism, Literacy & Language, Street literature & Urban Fiction

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This qualitative study entitled, Concrete Roses, explored the literacy and language practices of black adolescent girls in an out-of-school street literature book club. This qualitative study, situated within the social networking site Facebook, as well as an urban public library, explored the ways in which black adolescent girls make meaning of culturally relevant texts. The focus of this inquiry was to examine broadly how societal, institutional, and situational factors influence the ways black adolescent girls make meaning of street literature texts. Three interconnected research questions drove this study: (a) How do media representations of black adolescent girls influence how they see themselves? (Societal); (b) How do black adolescents girls make meaning of street literature texts in out-of-school spaces? (Institutional); and (c) How does the role of the researcher influence the ways in which black adolescent girls make meaning of street literature texts? (Situational).

Three theoretical frameworks, including Reader Response Theory, New Literacy Studies, and Hip-hop Feminist Theory (3rd Wave) drove this qualitative study. Several ethnographic methods were employed, including audiotaped transcriptions of fieldnotes, online book discussions, focus group interviews, participant journal writing, and a researcher journal. Critical Discourse Analysis was the analytical tool employed to interpret data (Fairclough, 1989; Rogers, 2003). Concrete Roses contributes to the current body of literature by positioning black adolescent girls at the center and bringing visibility to the ways in which their positionalities (raced, gendered, and classed identities) influence how they "do" literacy. By doing so, it addresses the dearth of research in LIS scholarship focusing on the intersection of raced, gendered, and classed identities. Concrete Roses also contributes to the current body of literature by addressing educational approaches to urban literacies and highlighting pedagogical strategies designed to bridge black adolescent girls' out-of-school and in-school literacy and language practices. Overall, Concrete Roses stresses the importance of creating inclusive learning environments, in order to effectively meet the literacy and language practices of diverse populations.


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