Queering young adult literature: examining sexual minorities in contemporary realistic fiction

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Title: Queering young adult literature: examining sexual minorities in contemporary realistic fiction
Author: Wickens, Corrine Marie
Abstract: Fiction that incorporates gay , lesbian , bisexual , transgender , or questioning of heterosexuality itself (GLBTQ ) themes and characters has been noted among the most widely censored novels for young adults (ALA , 2007 ; Finnessy , 2002 ; Karolides , 2002 ) . Despite many teachers ? and librarians ? anxiety about even recommending a novel that includes homosexual characters , more novels with GLBTQ characters and themes are receiving significant literary accolades and awards . Furthermore , acclaimed researcher and young adult literary historian , Michael Cart (2004 ) notes that reading young adult literature , ?the quintessential literature of the outsider , ? provides ?the lifesaving necessity of seeing one ?s own face reflected in the pages of a good book and the corollary comfort that derives from the knowledge that one is not alone ? (p . 46 ) . For GLBTQ youth , this is exceptionally important given the heteronormative structures in place to monitor and control sexual and gender identities and expressions . With this in mind , I utilized a dynamic and multi -faceted analytic approach , including interpretivist , textual discursive , and literary analyses , to examine seventeen GLBTQ themed novels for images , characterizations , and messages depicted about nonconforming sexualities and gender identities . I sought to answer three primary questions : 1 ) What are the networks or systems of power that are unveiled as inhibiting the identities of the characters ? 2 ) How are the identities of these characters constructed ? 3 ) What messages do the texts convey regarding nonconforming sexual and gender identities ? I found that the authors largely created dynamic , three -dimensional characters with complex histories and narratives that affirm and validate GLBTQ identities . Moreover , I observed two overarching set of factors : one that encompasses culturally mediated forces , which include cultural institutions and practices , persecution , and social networks , and a second that emphasizes a critical modernist construction of identity . Additionally , I found a progressive -oriented didacticism pervasive through the texts that positively portrays GLBTQ characters , denounces homophobia , frequently challenges heteronormative assumptions and behaviors , and instructs readers about various issues and conflicts common to GLBTQ youth .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -2492
Date: 2009-05-15

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Queering young adult literature: examining sexual minorities in contemporary realistic fiction. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -2492 .

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