Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Media, Art, and Text

First Advisor

Richard Fine


This study advances a theoretical model of appeal, the framework readers’ advisory (RA) librarians use to make book suggestions. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, it combines elements of media studies, literary theory, and library science to posit new elements of appeal and new models for understanding its dynamics. This dissertation argues that, because appeal as currently practiced relies heavily on reductive binaries, it fails to account for a number of features that play a crucial role in a reader’s experience of a work. Through a historically informed explication of the existing appeal framework, it posits a new formulation: appeal is a tripartite construct involving the sensibility of a text, the content of a work, and the interest of a reader, where reader is understood in its broadest sense. The new framework demonstrates explicitly that appeal is both textual and readerly and advances a number of additional concepts that are possible only in a more nuanced, tripartite structure. The dissertation illustrates its findings through three application chapters, considering in depth Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The study further provides a new theory/practice model of appeal, strongly urging that, if RA service is to continue to advance, its provision and an understanding of its critical concepts be undertaken with depth and rigor.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2014

Available for download on Wednesday, May 11, 2214