Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sentimental Didacticism and Young Adult Literature: The Cultural Work of Adolescent Violence
by Wallace, Brian, M.A., Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 2017, 71; 10276116
Abstract (Summary)

Young Adult (YA) science fiction and fantasy novels place adolescent protagonists in fantastical situations that require them to face challenges, overcome obstacles, and ultimately triumph over adversity. A disproportionate amount of the time the protagonists resort to violence in response to a challenge or a threat. It isn’t surprising that violence features so prominently in adolescent literature given the cultural fascination with violence, but what are adolescents learning about the use of violence through these novels? I argue that many YA novels present violence as an acceptable and potentially noble form of action in response to the abuses of hegemony. However, they also reveal uncertainty in regards to the effectiveness of violence to rectify these injustices calling into question whether violent response is the act of an effective agent. The individualism that permeates these texts relative to agency suggests that the morality of violence rest upon an individual ethos formed by an emotional understanding of perceived injustice. The reliance on emotion, both to decode systemic abuse and inequitable power arrangements and to determine an appropriate response, suggests a connection to the sentimental fiction of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: DeSpain, Jessica
Commitee: Anderson, Jill, Johnson, Heather
School: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Department: English Language & Literature
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 56/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature
Publication Number: 10276116
ISBN: 978-1-369-83804-6
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