Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English: English Studies

First Advisor

Karen Coats


This study theorizes the world building processes that sequence fiction engages within a framework of intratextual structuralism and cognitive aesthetic stage theory. The study begins with an interdisciplinary overview of fictional and possible worlds theory before proposing a structural adaptation of this lens that explains the developmental, aesthetic benefits of the genre for young readers. Chapter II is an application of the adapted lens to a canonical epic, the His Dark Materials sequence by Philip Pullman. I interpret the intentional structure of the story world across novels to discuss how these engage readers at different aesthetic milestones and encourage a deeper imaginative construct as a result. Chapter III is a similar application of the proposed theory for the popular television story world: Nickelodeon’s animated epic, The Last Airbender by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The examination of this story world includes a discussion of how media and different forms of literacy disrupt and encourage specific aesthetic responses to a story world. The final chapter begins with an observational discussion of my two children and their experiences engaging with fictional worlds. My analysis of their responses to a popular sequence proposes the children have an intuitive reading process that revolves around play and multimodal engagement with fiction that enhances the internalization of a story world. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how similar methods in an adult classroom can benefit adult students that struggle with reading engagement.


Imported from ProQuest Hall_ilstu_0092E_11565.pdf


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