Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Pearl James


The study of young adult literature has become widespread within Children’s and Young Adult Literature specifically and literary studies as a whole. However, the term “young adult” which defines and focalizes both the literature itself and the ostensible readers for whom it is produced remains a poorly-examined area. The present study examines the creation of one branch of what we now call “young adult literature” from its roots in the United States in the early twentieth century to its emergence as a dominant literary form in the mid-to-late 1960s. In doing so, it seeks to reconcile emerging professional, psychological, sociological, pedagogical, cultural, and ideological discourses concerning adolescence and young adulthood with works of fiction prepared specifically for their consumption. It also seeks to position the changing role of adolescent subjects into the larger framework of American Studies by examining how these texts reflected, tested, and reinforced dominant paradigms of thought surrounding how adolescents would become actualized American subjects. At the same time, it broaches concerns within these dominant paradigms that have been overlooked in constructing historical approaches to the development of young adult literature, and it suggests a few methodologies by which to recover these undiscussed threads.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)