English Ph.D. Dissertations


A Public View of Private Writing: Personal Weblogs and Adolescent Girls

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English/Rhetoric and Writing

First Advisor

Kristine Blair (Advisor)


This dissertation examines the public and private nature of personal weblogs written by adolescent girls. During a four-month observation period, the participants continue to post material to their weblogs and the posts during that time are available for examination and analysis. There is also an email interview and an end-of-study questionnaire that lend an inside view to the process. The reflection, collaboration, and mentoring that these blogs enable act as a feminist space as well as a personal one uniquely qualified for investigating identity. At the same time, the intersection of writing, introspection, and digital tools also lends the possibility of answering another feminist goal, that is expressed in AAUW’s Tech Savvy of bringing more girls to the sciences and to make them more comfortable in digital spaces. I propose that identity development and the need for a space that is both public and private may be behind the steady increase proportionately and numerically of adolescent girls in the LiveJournal user base. From April 2004 to April 2005 the increase has been steady, with the female user base rising from 65.2% to 67.3%, the majority of those being between the ages of 15 and 21 as per the statistics on April 30, 2005. This indicates that a need is being filled and provides an important part of the rationale for my study. It is significant also because by sheer numbers, adolescent girls in personal weblogs are making the definition of what acceptable public discourse is more diffuse and inclusive.