Year of Publication

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Enrico Mario Santí

Abstract

This dissertation discusses the implied reader in the EnCuento series illustrated childrens stories. All the stories are written by well-known Hispanic authors. This work elucidates historical, cultural, and semiotic gaps in the reading process. It explores the ways in which textual elements- such as style, focalization, and manipulation of readers expectations - affect the implied readers ability to produce or extract meaning. Our study will add to knowledge of the function of the implied reader in childrens texts. This study is divided into four chapters, each focusing on the implied reader. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the series discussing three books that are easy to understand, with simple vocabulary, chronological plots, and strong protagonists. Chapter 2 explores irony in two horror stories; Chapter 3 discusses books that promote a particular ideology. Finally, Chapter 4 explores books with protagonists who are outsiders. The books within each chapter have enough in common in terms of decodability that they seem to pursue the same kind of implied reader. Each chapter illustrates the way that style, point of view, manipulation of readers expectations, and telltale gaps affect the implied readers ability to make meaning. Within the series, each contributing author creates a system through which the reader can participate in the story. The authors intent is to communicate meaning to the implied reader. In sum, interpreting texts is communication between author and reader. In all of the EnCuento texts, authors employ response- inviting structures, making them interpretable on many levels. This study further analyzes EnCuento stories the better to decide if their primary purpose is didactic. Because of the political content of texts written for adults- as in the case of the stories written by Benedetti, Paz, and Valenzuela - I expected them to communicate a clear political message to their child readers. The thesis also inquires into whether books are, in fact written for children and children exclusively. Because the EnCuento authors are accomplished writers of adult literature, this study analyzes the degree to which the authors communicate specifically with a child audience. Finally, the dissertation analyzes the illustrations in several of the texts and finds that book illustrations are essential to making connections with the reader. It also explores cultural references to decide if they are specific to Latin America.

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