Literary Perspectives on Adolescence and Adulthood: Three Contemporary Young Adult Novels
Navarro Morlans, Ares
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Adolescence is both a life stage and a transition in its own right, as it presents the passage from childhood to young adulthood, and is closely connected to the formation of adult identity. A phase considered both conflictive and inspiring, it continues to attract the attention of sociologists, psychologists, educators and artists alike. In the literary domain, it is the centre of a popular genre, Young Adult Literature (YAL), which generates numerous best-selling titles every year. Although YAL has often been dismissed as a formulaic genre, it may be considered an important source to examine cultural representations of adolescence and adulthood: whereas its teenage protagonists attract the attention of thousands of readers, the process of growing up is typically at the centre of its plots. This dissertation examines literary representations of adolescence and adulthood through the lens of three contemporary YAL novels: The Problem with Forever (2016), by Jennifer L. Armentrout; American Panda (2018), by Gloria Chao; and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999), by Stephen Chbosky. By resorting to life course theory as main theoretical framework, this dissertation looks at the main aspects that construct adolescence in contemporary narratives of growth. At the same time, the study interrogates these fictional accounts of teenage life in order to find out whether they promote a positive or a negative perspective of adulthood and the process of growing up as a whole, and considers which socio-cultural elements may influence their resulting portrayal.
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