A Genre Against Them: Regulating Young Adults Through Literature

  • Nicole Galante Elon University


Young adult literature is not doing its job. Many critics have defined it as a genre for and about adolescents, but a close look at the definition in comparison to the content of the genre reveals cracks in the foundation. The genre might be about young adults, but in too many ways it is not for young adults: it is against them. A genre for young adults is one that is empowering, one that counters societal messages that consistently tell adolescents they should stay in their place. There are, of course, many things the genre does do to empower adolescents, like providing mirrors and windows into worlds other than their own; but, in small yet crucial ways, the genre is doing a very poor job at serving the audience it claims to champion.

Author Biography

Nicole Galante, Elon University
Nicole Galante is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Higher Education program at Elon University, where she also earned a bachelor’s degree in English. This article comes from her undergraduate thesis, titled “Literary and Social Narratives of Young Adult Power,” in which she studies power in young adult literature through aetonormative and youth theorist lenses.
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