The Goodness of Gilmore: Examining the Moralization of Reading in the Rory Gilmore-inspired Readathons of BookTube


  • Olivia O'Neill University of Alberta



This paper seeks to find out how assumptions surrounding the moralization of reading appear in the BookTube videos of readers inspired by Rory Gilmore, the bibliophilic protagonist of the Warner Bros. comedy-drama series Gilmore Girls. In doing so, it aims to illuminate the ways in which the myth of the “moralization” of reading is used to disguise complex relations between class, privilege, and meritocracy, both within Gilmore Girls and without. Building from the scholarship of Harvey J. Graff, Deborah Brandt, Q. D. Leavis, and Janis Radway, I first analyze how literacy has come to be associated with goodness and what sort of literature is thought to be related to moral righteousness. Using this framework, I then analyze the appearance of reading in Gilmore Girls itself, concluding that beliefs surrounding the virtue of reading linger even in the fictional world of Stars Hollow. Finally, I analyze two Rory Gilmore-inspired readathon videos, arguing that by echoing Rory’s own perspectives on reading, BookTubers demonstrate that the belief that reading is an unequivocal moral good persists, even if readers themselves are not aware of it.

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Social Sciences & Humanities