Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis - Campus Access


Women's Studies (WNST)

First Advisor

Dr. Sina Kramer


Recent years have seen a notable surge in activism focused on promoting diversity in book publishing. Since 2014, efforts like the We Need Diverse Books campaign and #OwnVoices have increased pressure on the industry to address its long-standing lack of diversity. Such efforts, and the publishing industry’s consequent attempts to create change, have been the subject of much public debate. In early 2017, public debate intensified, focalizing around the increasingly regular use of sensitivity readers to check children’s and young adult fiction books for inaccurate representations of historically marginalized identities and experiences. This debate formalized arguments for and against diversity efforts in the publishing industry. In this paper, I document and analyze the arguments developed in the sensitivity reader debate, making inroads to understanding the ideologies that contour contemporary issues of diversity and representation in fiction. Additionally, I argue that the debate’s representation of book diversity activists use of social media suggests a need for further critical engagement with this form of activism’s motivations, strategies, and effects.