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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Teresa Bergman

First Committee Member

Marlin Bates

Second Committee Member

Paul Turpin


In the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Reading the Romance , Janice Radway offers a new introduction in which she states that women continue to be limited in their access to discursive spaces where they can participate and engage equally. This thesis argues that women have created their own discursive spaces, or safe spaces, to compensate for their restricted access to the public sphere through book clubs. By utilizing a critical ethnographic approach and feminist theory, this thesis analyzes the communal constructs and safe space of one book club in the Midwest U.S. This critical ethnography of this book club provides an important perspective because its members are both heterosexual and lesbian women, thus providing an intersectional perspective about this safe space. After six months of data collection, three themes emerged: current events, family and personal experiences. By analyzing these themes I was able to conclude that these women have constructed a safe space that protected and fostered them through difficult and challenging times and experiences while also giving them the place to safely be themselves by exploring nontraditional gender roles and sharing their identities.





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