Theses Doctoral

(Re)conceptualizing street fiction: A critical analysis of discourses, dialogical dynamics, and pedagogical possibilities

Van Orman, Karin

As popular genre of novels predominantly written by African American and Latinx authors, street fiction is often characterized in terms of the sex, violence, and illicit activities present in its narratives set in low socioeconomic urban communities across the United States. Street fiction’s popularity has soared since the early 2000s, and several authors who formerly self-published their novels and sold them through grassroots channels now sign lucrative contracts with major publishers. The purpose of this study is to offer a recontextualized description of street fiction exploring its ideological, political and cultural connections to other spheres of influence including: the tradition of the American novel, African American literary history and theories, popular fictions, and hip hop. Using critical discourse analysis and cultural studies as combined methodologies, I offer a dialogic analysis of three themes present in four examples of the genre, namely: 1) ambivalence between “straight” lives and “street” lives, 2) the interplay between constructions of “self” and “other” in street fiction, and 3) the dynamics between the “real” and the “fantastic” elements in the novels. I offer a concluding analysis of how the literacy practices surrounding street fiction dovetail with key conversations in the field of English, including the definition of literature, the relationships among authors, readers and texts, the purpose of reading and writing fiction, and the notion of books as both cultural artifacts and commodities.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Morrell, Ernest
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2017