Textual bodies in young adult literature

  • Tanya Kiermaier

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Young adult literature occupies a liminal space – not quite children’s literature, not quite adult literature. It has been seen as a mid-way point on the way to reading adult literature. Adolescence can be seen as a liminal space itself, neither child nor adult, inhabiting a borderland that adults don’t really understand. The evolution of young adult literature has seen it develop into a literature that has less in common with children’s literature than with adult literature. I argue that it is a separate, unique form which is innovative, varied and able to give voice and vision to an unlimited range of subjects and defined by the space between writer and reader. This is a shared space, where the author takes the reader into their confidence seeking access to the truth and possibilities of adolescent experience. I suggest that this is a liberating experience for author and reader, whose relationship produces a space where young adults increasingly exercise their own moral and ethical judgements. I propose that writer, text and reader connect in the shared space of young adult literature through a bodily process characterised by immersion into and emergence from the text. This interaction of writer, text and reader sees the writer, and then the reader in their turn, submit to the text and lose the self temporarily. They become one with the other, assimilating to the imaginary space of the narrative. In this space they make a bodily connection through emotions, feeling and senses. They emerge from the narrative, reaffirming the self and bring their responses back to the real world. This establishes potential for change in the reader through the shared power relationship unique to young adult literature. This research comprises an exegesis and the creative component of a young adult novel, Demolition. In the novel I write the adolescent body into being through the use of a phenomenological approach, focussing on the inextricable intertwining of place and body as a ‘being-in-the-world’.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJordan Williams (Supervisor) & Jen Webb (Supervisor)

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