Final Project Proposal

You will need to write a proposal for your final project. This proposal should detail the topic(s) you will be discussing in your final project along with the young adult text(s) you will be examining. This proposal does not have to be flawless (and it shouldn’t be). I just want to see that you have begun thinking about the final project and are beginning to work toward it. You should include your driving questions and some initial thoughts about why this topic and what you hope to argue in your final paper. You should also have a few first scholarly sources to support your ideas and direction on the final project. Your proposal should be at minimum one page.

Introduction to Adolescence and Adolescent/Young Adult Literature

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This week we’ll get into the critical engagement part of adolescence and adolescent/young adult literature. To begin this introduction, we are going to start with Nancy Lesko’s look at the development and construction of adolescence and how these ideas have shaped Western culture’s understanding of who teenagers and adolescence are.

Lesko-TroublingTeenager.pdfPreview the document

Now that you have read Lesko, I want to highlight a few things about her ideas and “confident characterizations.” Adoelscence as a concept developed at the being of the 20th century with the industrial revolution and advent of labor laws. Young people were no longer allowed to work in factories and they had nothing to do, so compulsory education (secondary education) was formed. Society could not have teenagers running the streets with nothing to do. Thus, adolescence became a category; however, as Lesko points out, this term, in its early conception, applied to middle and upper class white people. The confident characterization though have been universally applied and thought through over the last century with relatively little change in cultural conceptions.

A store bookshelf with young adult novels

These characterizations also inform how people write and publishers select books for adolescence. To help us think through this development and some characteristics of adolescent literature, here are two chapters that should provide a strong basis for the semester.

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YoungAdultsandTheirReading.pdfPreview the document

As you can see, adolescent/young adult literature has developed in a very particular way with certain ideas about who teenagers and adolescents are at the fore of the content. These assumption open up to particular ideologies of who and what constitutes adolescence and how these young people need to be shaped into upstanding/informed/conforming citizens that leads to particular ideological positions being written within books.

We often don’t think about the ways our everyday actions and speech convey our worldview to others, but almost everything we do conveys some form of our worldview.

Adolescent literature is no different; it conveys ideologies in very particular way (and to minds that are developing and learning how to engage and think about the world). Therefore, it is particularly important to think about the ideologies that are being presented in young adult literature. What ideas are being shared and perpetuated within these books? These ideologies can become problematic, especially when only certain ones are being perpetuated.

In young adult literature, diversity has been a major issue for a long time. As we will read diverse adolescent literature over the semester, you will see how some authors are addressing these gaps within content. To help think through the need for diverse books and why it is so important, you will read Rudine Sims-Bishop’s (a former OSU faculty member) foundational piece.

Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors.pdfPreview the document

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