Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Gina DeBlase


For young woman, the issue of self-expression is important to consider because there are many contexts where their voices and experiences are discounted, silenced, and suppressed. Venues for self-expression can provide a way for those voices and experiences that have been ignored in classrooms and other social outlets to be recognized. This research study explored the ways four girls between the ages of 16-19 used blogging to construct meaning of their experiences and negotiate their identities through a wide range of literary practices including nonfiction and fiction writing, photographs, self-created drawings, and other materials. Writing in these blogs girls moved between front stage, public performances and back stage performances, making strategic decisions regarding how they presented themselves to their audience. Contained within their artifacts are portrayals of self, continuously shaped and reshaped through on-going literacy practices.

This research specifically explored the ways online narratives, posted in blogs, allow girls to construct identities and negotiate understandings of self between front stage and back stage identities. The girls' movement between the two regions highlights the ways they take up or resist messages from their larger social and cultural Discourse communities. Narrative and discourse analysis were used to analyze the data. Narrative analysis provided the framework for understanding individual stories as well as the larger stories that surfaced in the reoccurring themes presented by each girl. Discourse analysis, provided a lens from which to understand the various social groups in which the girls were members. I came to understand how girls represented and negotiated their lives through specific words, phrases, and images. As I read the blog entries, I gained insights into various aspects of the girls' identity as they constructed and shared their experiences within the blog and across other data sources.

Implications for this study center on the use of literature and creating discussion spaces for girls to open up and share their emerging understandings of self. Examining the ways girls used blogging recognizes that digital environments are shifting the ways narratives are constructed and negotiated, offering new ways for girls to articulate and share their experiences.