The Whatever Men (Vol.1). The search for self : the portrayal of protagonist identity development in young adult fiction (Vol. 2)

  • Tom Gibson

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Young Adult novels are extremely popular with readers in Australia and globally, and the most successful sell millions of copies. However scholars, publishers, teachers, librarians, parents and readers continue to debate what actually constitutes a Young Adult novel.
    One of the few qualities consistently agreed upon is that ‘identity’ is an important concept in Young Adult Fiction. In fact, the portrayal of adolescent identity is considered one of the defining qualities of the categorisation, and an author’s ability to represent this effectively is often cited when Young Adult novels win prizes, sell well or are included in school curricula.
    This thesis examines the portrayal of protagonist identity development in Young Adult Fiction by applying a psychological lens to a close reading of 20 Young Adult novels, as well as to 20 novels implying an adult audience. This comparative examination draws a number of findings indicating that:
    •identity development is consistently portrayed in Young Adult Fiction;
    •the same is not true of novels written for adults;
    •there are consistencies in the way protagonist identity development is portrayed in Young Adult Fiction;
    •this portrayal aligns with adolescent identity development, as described in psychological literature.
    These findings informed the creative component of this thesis in the form of a Young Adult novel titled The Whatever Men.
    Date of Award2022
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorTony Eaton (Supervisor), Jen Webb (Supervisor) & Paul Hetherington (Supervisor)

    Cite this