Laughing through adolescent literature: Middle school students' use of humor as a vehicle for understanding
AuthorOnofrey, Karen Ann
AdvisorFox, Dana L.
Goodman, Yetta M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore how five middle school students used humor in young adult literature as a vehicle for understanding according to Louise Rosenblatt's transactional reading theory. The study was conducted in an honors language arts classroom in the Southwestern region of the United States. Methods for data collection included twenty semi-structured interviews, observational fieldnotes, transcripts of audiotaped and videotaped literature circle discussions, journal entries, a humor survey and other miscellaneous written artifacts. Data were collected for seven months. Instructional materials included a variety of young adult novels and short stories representing historical fiction and contemporary realistic fiction genres. Analytic induction, constant comparison, organizational charts, and various forms of member checking were used to analyze the data. The results of the study indicate that the students used humor to construct meaning while reading. Specifically, students visualized action humor in the texts enhancing their comprehension. Discussions referencing experiential and textual connections were commonplace. Some students found humor in the use of archaic language or the use of dialects different from their own. The students read the adolescent literature both efferently and aesthetically (Rosenblatt, 1995) as they attended to humor setting conditions for engaging the humor. First, if the humor was the result of superiority humor where the focus group members could predict the targeted character would be hurt, disappointed or promote a negative change in the character's development, then they would not engage in the humor. Second, if the humor was closely related to their world of understanding, then the humor was embraced only after careful deliberation. Third, if the characters presented themselves as resilient and unaffected by the humor, then the students were willing to laugh at the characters.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading and Culture