Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jessica Restaino

Committee Member

James Nash

Committee Member

Arthur Simon


The New York Times Book Review is a prestigious, well-known, and widely-read publication. Each Sunday, countless readers turn to the reviews published in the Times for critiques of recently released contemporary fiction. The reviews are written by individuals of experience: novelists, short-story writers, nonfiction writers, professors of Literature, and editors of literary publications. However, in recent years, many websites have begun to publish online book reviews written by everyday readers., created in December 2006, is a social networking site devoted solely to reviewing and discussing books. My project examines the identity of the reviewer who writes for The New York Times and the identity of the reviewer who writes for Goodreads. I argue that by entering the rhetorical situation of the book review, via the Times or Goodreads, and by making key rhetorical moves, the reviewer constructs a “reader-writer” identity: the Times reviewer creates a “reader-writer” identity of an expert and the Goodreads reviewer creates a “reader-writer” identity of an apprentice. This project analyzes how these identities are constructed by the bylines or profiles of the reviewers, the format of the review venues, the occurrence or lack of writing errors in the reviews, the reviewers’ voices, and the reviewers’ treatment of their audiences. These reader-writer identities, I argue, are rhetorically constructed personas that are presented to the reading public. These personas indicate that the reviewer is a respectable reader in the community he/she has joined, either the Times community or the Goodreads community.

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