Term of Award

Spring 2002

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Delores D. Liston

Committee Member 1

William Reynolds

Committee Member 2

Diane Zigo

Committee Member 3

Caren Town


The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer the question "What messages about the image of womanhood are available to adolescent females in female-authored short fiction that appears in a variety of American literature textbooks used since 1965, a few years preceding racial integration and widespread coverage of the women's movement in rural Georgia, through 2000?"

Five American literature anthologies that were used in the Laurens County Georgia School System for instruction in the required American literature course since 1965 were collected. Short fiction written by women was identified and then the researcher identified those women writers whose short fiction had appeared in at least two of the textbooks. This group consisted of Sarah Ome Jewett, Kate Chopin, Willa Gather, Katherine Anne Porter, Eudora Welty, Shirley Jackson, and Flannery O'Connor. The researcher then studied each writer and analyzed the short stories that were included in the Laurens County School System's adopted texts.

The researcher discovered that since 1965 publishers have slowly increased the number of women writers who have been anthologized; however, they still represent more men writers than women. Furthermore, they devote more pages per male writer than they do to the female writers. It is the researcher's contention that the women writers included in the study were autonomous women; however, their anthologized stories included female characters that were not as autonomous as their creators. Indeed, many of the stories featured male characters, while using the women characters peripherally. The study also briefly discusses compilation of the textbooks regarding question presentation, grammar, composition, and vocabulary skills, as well as artistic illustrations.

The study indicated a need for more care on the part of educators and publishers in providing strong, positive female role models in fiction written by women. The study also suggests the development of ways in which teachers can more easily use textbooks to present integrated lessons, appropriate for all students.


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