Instructor: Skaja T/R 9:30am-10:50am
In this class, we will read a series of contemporary young adult novels to explore the way that teen identity is characterized and commodified in fiction, and then we will try our hands at writing YA lit of our own. Young adult literature is often treated as a sub-literary genre, partly because of its relationship to mainstream mass marketing, and partly because young adult novels tend to feature overt moralizing and adolescent-centric themes. The quest novel, the revolutionary allegory, and the social problem novel are all popular within the genre in recent years, and we will study each of these approaches in turn. Of particular interest will be the protagonist’s evolving sense of self, and how an experience of trauma or adversity can influence the development of that selfhood. Our survey of young adult texts also will lead us to examine representations of gender, race, and sexuality. How does The Hate U Give subvert cultural narratives about race and police brutality? How does a series like The Hunger Games challenge or reinforce the status quo? How do adolescents form a sense of moral responsibility? This close study of the genre will guide us through our own experiments in writing young adult literature.