A New Bildungsroman: Changing the Perspective on Young Adult Literature

Scholarship Entrant: Brianna from Ashburnham, Massachusetts
Essay Question: If you could earn a living doing what you love most, what would it be, and how would it change the world? Describe the specific goals you would set to make that dream a reality.
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Young Adult literature is a highly controversial genre in today’s society. Many view it as simple, clichéd, romantic drivel; however, these novels are far more than that. The books are profound as they trace the complex and compelling development of an adolescent protagonist, a contemporary bildungsroman, that requires skill to successfully create. To earn a living by doing what I love, I would be an advocate for Young Adult literature, working with publishers, promoting authors, and writing literary criticism to help the genre gain respect in the literary world. As an Engish major I have the opportunity to start now by pursuing an independent study and thesis on the importance of Young Adult literature. A large part of the genre’s uninspiring representation is the lack of support from higher educational institutions, many of which discourage teaching Young Adult literature because such a small amount of scholarly criticism is available. This, inevitably, creates a decreased chance of improvement because the student’s are unable to study the literature and cannot learn the necessary skills to analyze and criticize the specialized fiction. By focusing on generating respect for this genre there is the possibility to decrease the harsh light shed on these books. While it may not change the global world, this has the potential to change the literary world. By reducing the scorn on the genre, the chance to increase the literacy rate in children and teenagers could rise as the novels are considered to hold more literary merit.

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