The Literary Merit of Young Adult Novels: Are They as Good as the Classics?

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Title: The Literary Merit of Young Adult Novels: Are They as Good as the Classics?
Author: Hair, Melanie Sue
Advisors: Dr. Barbara Bennett, Committee Chair
Dr. Mary Helen Thuente, Committee Member
Dr. Cris Crissman, Committee Member
Dr. Jason Miller, Committee Member
Abstract: Teaching young adult literature in secondary English classrooms is a controversial topic, and much of the controversy stems from the idea that some educators believe that young adult novels are an inferior genre and do not contain the same amount of depth and merit that traditional classics possess. While young adult literature has made its way into the secondary English curriculum, it is typically only used for lower academic level students, reluctant readers, or for independent reading assignments. Rarely is young adult literature used for advanced students or for whole-class reading units. The purpose of this project is to show that young adult literature does possess many of the same qualities that traditional classics, typically considered 'great' literature, possess. The first chapter lays the groundwork for the rest of the thesis. The focus will be to describe why teaching young adult literature is such a controversial topic, to define the characteristics of 'great' literature, and to describe why young adult literature should be included in the English curriculum. The next three chapters analyze four young adult novels, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Buried Onions by Gary Soto, and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros to show that the novels are of high literary quality. The last chapter concludes the analysis by discussing how the novels analyzed in the previous chapters exhibit the characteristics of 'great' literature and how they could serve as a bridge to the traditional classics.
Date: 2006-04-17
Degree: MA
Discipline: English

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