Degree Name

BA

Department

English

College

Humanities

Defense Date

2021-12-09

Publication Date

2021-12-16

First Faculty Advisor

Dr. Kristin Matthews

First Faculty Reader

Professor Karen Brown

Honors Coordinator

Dr. Bryant Jensen

Keywords

contemporary novels, expanding the canon, classroom application, The Poet X, verse novels

Abstract

This thesis defines what makes a novel literary and examines the benefits of introducing Young Adult literature into the English curriculum. The current classical canon that is taught in secondary classrooms consists almost entirely of books written by white, Eurocentric men with a few token novels from women, authors of color, or queer authors. While the books in the classical canon have earned their place there, the rapidly changing demographics in our secondary schools mean that the majority of our students no longer share the same characteristics as these authors. They have largely different life experiences and struggle to connect with books that were written by and for white, adult males. Students want books that they can understand, with characters and stories that reflect their own experiences. YA novels have the diversity to provide students with the accessibility and understanding that they want while also containing the literary qualities of complexity and thematic development to fulfill state standards and expectations.

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