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Since the emergence of the young adult novel in the 1950s, there has been intense debate over how to
approach and classify this category of fiction. While many readers label this genre as childrens literature
due to its moralizing themes and relatively unsophisticated style, others deem this classification to be
unsuitable due to the genres treatment of mature subjects such as gender, violence, and death. This
tension is further amplified by some readers reluctance to approach these texts as serious literature due to
their heavy reliance on the market and their juvenile target audience. Through an exploration of young
adult novels from the 1950s to the present, and through an examination of what constitutes literariness,
we will attempt to establish the extent to which these novels can be approached as full-fledged Literature.
Can a genre of fiction driven primarily by marketing concerns and didacticism be capable of literary
innovation? How can discussions of the young adult novel contribute to our understanding of the divide
between low and high culture in other genres of fiction? After a brief exploration of these issues of
literariness, we will use current techniques of literary analysisincluding but not limited to close-reading,
reader-response criticism, and the application of post-structuralist theoriesto understand how young
adult novels reinforce, challenge, or refute common cultural perceptions and ideologies. Particular attention
will be given to the questions of gender, sexuality, and the body that are regularly raised by young adult
novels. We will critically analyze issues such as the gendered demographics of young adult readership, the
constructed nature of growth and development, and the representation of femininity, masculinity, and
queerness in the content of young adult texts. In order to facilitate an exploration of these issues, we will
examine novels written by prominent authors such as J.D. Salinger, Suzanne Collins, David Levithan, and
John Green, among others.

DISCLAIMER: This syllabus is subject to change and may be
amended during the course of the semester in order to correct
unintended errors, comply with the established course objectives,
and/or respond to contingencies.

CLASSROOM: Hammes Mowbray Hall 306
CLASS HOURS: MW 9:30 AM 10:45 AM
MAIL BOX: 356 OShaughnessy Hall
OFFICE HOURS: T and W 11:00 AM 12:00
N or by appointment

It is believed that these scaled-down, low-resolution images of the
covers of J.D. Salingers The Catcher in the Rye, Stephen Chboskys
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, David Levithans Two Boys Kissing,
and Suzanne Collinss The Hunger Games qualify for fair use under
United States copyright law. No copyright infringement is intended.

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After completing ENGL 20733/GSC 20515:
You will be able to identify, appreciate, and assess competing interpretations of a text.
You will think critically about yourself and about your place in culture and society.
You will be able to understand and appreciate the literariness of a text.
You will be able to conduct intricate and sophisticated literary criticism by conducting close readings
and by drawing from contemporary schools of literary theory.
You will understand how issues of gender, sexuality, and the body affect the distribution, readership,
content, and perception of young adult novels.
You will develop a comprehensive understanding of the young adult novel by studying its history, its
readership, its trends, and its innovations from the twentieth century to the present.

You are expected to purchase copies of the following 10 novels and bring them to class when they are
assigned. You are free to purchase the hardcover, paperback, or e-book versions of these novels.

1. Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1991.
2. Paterson, Katherine. Bridge to Terabithia. New York: Harper Collins, 2003.
3. Chbosky, Stephen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. New York: MTV Books, 2012.
4. Green, John. Looking For Alaska. New York: Speak, 2006.
5. Lowry, Lois. The Giver. New York: Ember, 2006.
6. Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press, 2009.
7. Garden, Nancy. Annie on My Mind. New York: Square Fish, 2007.
8. Levithan, David. Two Boys Kissing. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013.
9. Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little Brown
Books for Young Readers, 2009.
10. Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. New York: Vintage,

Additional readingssuch as critical articles, chapters and handoutswill be sent to your ND email
accounts. With the exception of e-readers, all other electronic devices (such as laptop computers) will
only be allowed in the classroom under my discretion.

Your grade is primarily based on a series of essays that will progressively increase in depth and
complexity. The chart below lists the distinct assignments that will be given in this course, and the total
of points that these assignments represent:
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Assignment Quantity Pages Points
Literary Analysis Essay 1 3-4 100 (10%)
Comparative Literature Essay 1 5-7 150 (15%)
Literary Research Essay 1 8-10 200 (20%)
Short Writing Assignments (SWAs) 4 1-2 (each) 150 (15%)
Presentations 2 n/a 100 (10%)
Midterm Exam 1 n/a 150 (15%)
Participation and Performance n/a n/a 150 (15%)
TOTAL: 1,000 POINTS (100%)

The following section will give you a brief description of the assignments that will be taken into
consideration when giving you a grade. These descriptions are only meant to give you a loose idea of
the assignment at hand. More detailed instructions will be given to you during the semester.

Literary Analysis Essay: You will develop an argumentative essay in which you examine a
specific literary element or technique found in one of the novels discussed in class. The goal of this
essay is to draw a conclusion about the effects, meanings, or interpretations that this element or
technique produces when approaching the novel as a whole.

Comparative Literature Essay: You will select two novels and examine their parallels and
differences with the goal of defending an explicit interpretation of their themes, characters, plots, or
purposes. Your analysis will depend on close-reading rather than on outside research. The goal of
this essay is not to summarize the novels, but rather, to think critically about the literary elements in
your selected works and to draw a broad conclusion through the process of establishing connections
and patterns found across two texts.

Literary Research Essay: Using a combination of close-reading and outside research, you will
develop a robust examination and evaluation of one or more young adult novels. The goal of this
essay is to participate in a larger conversation about one or more novels by addressing a specific,
research-oriented question or hypothesis. Thus, this essay will demonstrate your ability to balance
your own literary views and interpretations with those shared by other readers and scholars. Your
research for this essay can be informed through different interpretive lenses and anglesincluding
any of the theoretical or methodological areas discussed in class. You are also welcome to explore
specific questions or topics related to the field of young adult literatureincluding but not limited
to movie adaptations, censorship, audience, reception, literariness, gender, and sexuality.

Short Writing Assignments (SWAs): Focused writing exercises designed to help you recognize
and use literary analysis techniques and tools. SWAs are usually 1-2 pages in length (including
quotes and passages). Possible SWAs may include: close-reading a passage, creating a theoretical
framework, interpreting a passage using a particular theoretical lens, or reader-responses, among
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Presentations: There are two required presentations for this course. The first is a group
presentation in which you will introduce a young adult novel or a critical work. For this
presentation, you will distribute a handout where you offer background information of the novel or
work, in addition to a list of questions that you want to discuss with the class. The second
presentation will be a discussion of your literary research essay.

Midterm Exam: A midterm exam will be given during the class before fall break. This exam will
be divided into two parts. In the first part of this exam, you will be asked to identify, contextualize,
and discuss some quotes extracted from the novels discussed in class. For the second part, you will
be asked to develop an insightful response to a question/prompt that addresses a broad issue in the
field of young adult literature. For this second part of the exam, you will be given a choice of two
questions/prompts. Success on this exam will depend on how well you engaged with the primary
texts discussed in class.

Participation and Performance: A holistic score based on your preparation for class, your active
participation in class discussions, and your compliance with the course policies mentioned in this
syllabus. Small assignments, quizzes, and tasks will also be taken into consideration for this grade.
Note that visits during my office are also taken into consideration for this evaluation component,
for they demonstrate active engagement and interest in the course.

A A- B+ B B-
100 - 93% 92.9 - 90% 89.9 - 87% 86.9 - 83% 82.9 80%
(1000-930 points) (929-900 points) (899-870 points) (869-830 points) (829-800 points)

C+ C C- D F
79.9 - 77% 76.9 - 73% 72.9 - 70% 69.9 - 60% 59.9 - 0%
(799-770 points) (769-730 points) (729-700 points) (699-600 points) (599-0 points)

Disclaimer: Students should keep in mind that an A (100 93%) is a grade that is only assigned for
insightful, original, and thought-provoking work. It is also a grade given to work that vastly exceeds the
expectations of the assignment.

Absences: Attendance to class is compulsory. It is expected that you come to class daily and on time.
You are responsible for all of the material that was discussed and covered on the day you were absent.
If you have one to two absences during the semester, you will receive no penalties towards your final
grade. However, for each additional absence over the second, you will receive a half grade deduction
from your final grade (for example, if your final grade is an A and you have 3 absences, your final
grade will be an A-. If you have 4 absences, your final grade will be a B+. If you have 7 or more
absences, you will automatically fail the courseno exceptions. In the case of a prolonged illness or
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personal issue, please contact me as soon as possible via email.

Assignments: All assignments must be turned in personally by the established due date and in the
requested format (hard copy, electronic, etc.). In terms of late essays, twenty (-20) points will be
deducted for every day of lateness that passes, including weekends. In terms of minor assignments such
as SWAs, five (-5) points will be deducted for every day of lateness. Keep in mind that you will only
receive credit for participation and for presentations if you are present in class. All work for the course
will be word-processed or edited on a computer.

Academic (Dis)Honesty: Plagiarism, or the intentional use of another persons work without giving
appropriate credit, is a serious academic offense that wont be taken lightly in this course. In addition,
keep in mind that there are other forms of academic dishonesty that will not be tolerated in this course,
such as: a) Cheating on a paper or project; b) Downloading an essay from the internet; c)
Paying/soliciting another person to write your paper; d) Turning in an assignment that was used for
credit in another course; and e) Other similar cases that breach Notre Dames honor code. If it is
determined that you committed any of the academic offenses mentioned above, you will receive a
grade of zero (0) on that particular work. If the act of academic dishonesty is serious, or if multiple acts
are done consecutively, you will be reported to the appropriate academic authorities. For more
information on academic honesty, please visit the web address for Notre Dames Honor Code:

Respect and Open-mindedness: Controversial and charged topics will be discussed during the course
of the semester. It is expected that you approach every topic discussed in class and in the course
assignments with the amplified level of maturity, sensibility, rationality, and open-mindedness that is
expected from a college-level student. You are also expected to treat your fellow classmates with
respect at all times.

Statement on Discrimination: Compliant with the bylaws of the University of Notre Dame, there will
be no discrimination on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, disability, veteran status
or age in the administration of any of its education programs, admissions policies, scholarship and loan
programs, athletic and other school-administered programs or in employment. However, I would like
to further add that in this course, there will also be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
or religious belief (or lack thereof).

Statement on Students with Disabilities: If you require any accommodations for this course, please
make sure to meet with your coordinator to request services. Visit for more information.

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You are responsible for reading all of the assigned material listed below. I will assume that I can
trust you to do all the assigned reading on time. If I find out that this trust is misplaced, I will
significantly lower your participation and performance grade.

UNIT I: Prologue
Time Frame: August 27
September 1

Key Questions:
o What is literature and why does it matter?
o What are the common perceptions of young adult literature?
o What constitutes literariness?
o Excerpts from Jonathan Cullers Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction
o Excerpts from S.E. Hintons The Outsiders

UNIT II: Breaking Dawn The Birth and Rise of the Young Adult Novel
Time Frame: September 3rd September 15

Key Questions:
o When and why did the young adult novel emerge as a distinct genre?
o What demographics constitute YA readership?
o What characterizes early young adult novels?
o What roles do masculinity and femininity play in the production and consumption of
young adult literature?
o What is the problem with problem novels?
Primary Text:
o J.D. Salingers The Catcher in the Rye (224 pages)
o Katherine Patersons Bridge to Terabithia (144 pages)
Secondary Reading:
o Excerpts from Michael Carts Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism
SWA #1 is due on September 10

UNIT III: Young Adult Literature Comes-of-Age: The YA Renaissance
Time Frame: September 17
September 29

Key Questions:
o What characterizes the renaissance of YA literature? To what extent can these novels be
considered literary?
o What does it mean to come-of-age? Is assimilation a necessary component of growth?
o Has young adult fiction challenged what it means to grow up or develop? How are
alternative ways of development conveyed in the young adult novel?
Primary Texts:
o Stephen Chboskys The Perks of Being a Wallflower (226 pages)
o John Greens Looking for Alaska (221 pages)
Secondary Reading:
o Angel D. Matos Writing Through Growth, Growth Through Writing: The Perks of
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Being a Wallflower and the Novel of Development.
SWA #2 is due on September 22
Reader-Response Essay is due on September 29

UNIT IV: Utopias and Dystopias Young Adult Science Fiction
Time Frame: October 1
October 15

Key Questions:
o What are the goals and aims of dystopian fiction?
o How do dystopian novels explore and critique political and cultural structures?
o How do violence and oppression play a role in dystopian fiction?
Primary Texts:
o Lois Lowrys The Giver (204 pages)
o Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games (387 pages)
Secondary Reading:
o Excerpts from Carrie Hintzs and Elain Ostrys Utopian and Dystopian Writing for
Children and Young Adults.
SWA #3 is due on October 6
The midterm exam will be given on October 15

FALL BREAK (October 18

UNIT V: Out of the Closet The Queer Young Adult Novel
Time Frame: October 27
November 10

Key Questions:
o How does the young adult novel handle representations of non-normative sexualities?
o What is the role of family and futurity in the young adult novel?
o How has the sub-genre of queer young adult literature developed over time?
o How are ideologies of the body affirmed or contested in queer young adult literature?
Primary Texts:
o Nancy Gardens Annie On My Mind (272 pages)
o David Levithans Two Boys Kissing (208 pages)
Secondary Readings:
o Excerpts from Michael Cart and Christine Jenkins The Heart Has Its Reasons: Young
Adult Literature With Gay/Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2003
o Excerpts from Kathryn Bond Stocktons The Queer Child, or, Growing Sideways in the
Twentieth Century
SWA #4 is due on October 29

UNIT VI: Postmodernity (Part I) Race in Young Adult Novels
Time Frame: November 12
November 19

Key Questions:
o What is the role of identity politics in YA literature?
o How can approaches to the body aid us in interpreting issues of race?
o Are young adult novels with non-white protagonists postmodern?
o How do we teach/discuss controversial issues in a classroom?
Primary Text:
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o Sherman Alexies Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (229 pages)
Secondary Reading:
o Excerpts from The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism
o Comparative literature essay is due on November 12

Student-Teacher Conferences
Time Frame: November 24

In lieu of a formal class, we will schedule one-on-one meetings to discuss an outline for your
literary critical analysis papers.
Please begin reading Mark Haddons The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Unit VI (Continued): Postmodernity (Part II) The Market of YA
Time Frame: December 1
and December 3

Key Questions:
o How have words been destabilized during the rise of postmodernity?
o How can postmodern techniques shed light on difficult topics?
o What is the role of affect in the production and consumption of YA fiction?
o How are YA novels marketed to particular audiences?
o What are some of the differences between highbrow and lowbrow literature?
Primary Text:
o Mark Haddons The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (226 pages)
A full draft of your Literary Critical Analysis Paper must be finalized by the end of this unit.

UNIT VII: Epilogue
Time Frame: December 8
and December 10

Paper presentations will take place during this unit.
Final draft of Literary Critical Analysis Paper is due on the allotted final exam date.