OGOM and Young Adult Fiction @Identities_YA

Just a quick post to say thank you to Dr Sonya Andermahr and Anthony Stepniak for organising the Identities in YA Symposium and for inviting me to give a keynote. There were many highlights to the day including the ‘Monstrous Identities in YA Fiction’ panel with Dr Bill Hughes on ‘Loving the Corpse, Becoming Wolf’ [now uploaded to our Resources section – Bill]; Lucy Andrew on ‘Killer Teens’ and M.T. Flynn on ‘Being Monsters in YA Supernatural Romance’; and the ‘Hidden/Liminal Selves’ panel in which Leah Phillips introduced her theory of ‘unbecoming’, Anthony Stepniak discussed Judith Butler in relation to the pre-transitioned self in YA narratives, and Kendra Reynolds presented on ‘inbetweeness’, or ‘Watery Bodies and Boundaries in Betsy Cornwall’s Tides’. Who doesn’t love a good selkie novel? This has prompted me to think about Tides as an addition to the Generation Dead course as we have an interesting strand on liminal selves and animal/human boundaries.

I was sorry to miss Sonya’s paper on Patrick Ness, due to timetabling, but delighted to find some gothic (Tessa Reid on ‘Gender Performance in Warm Bodies and the Male Makeover’ inspired some interesting debate). I was also very pleased to finally meet Meriem Lamara who was presenting on ‘the Female Hero in Contemporary YA’.  Overall it was a hugely enjoyable experience and I spoke to many up and coming scholars in the field and some of my own ‘Reading the Vampire’ MA graduates, now on PhD programmes. I’m excited to see what the legacy of this new research will be in terms of YA’s place within the academy and if it grows as a research discipline or genre.

My paper was entitled Generation Dead: Young Adult Fiction and the Politics of Difference (Inside and Outside the Academy).  The first part of my talk  addressed YA fiction and the gothic within the academy and introduced the YA Gothic course I have developed at level 6 around themes of otherness, alterity and difference, and the second part explored identity more broadly, and focused on murdered teen Sophie Lancaster, and  the representation of  the ‘absolute other’ in narratives around adolescence, subculture and the gothic. I also wanted to problematise the term YA (is it a field, a genre, a demographic? etc.) The Q&A invited responses to this ahead of the launch of the YA Research Network with Leah Phillips over lunch (this resource is linked to from the OGOM blog).

It is sometimes difficult to know what the audience has taken from your paper so I was delighted to see @meghanrimmasch tweeting her notes from my keynote! This made my day. Thank you!! Generation Dead: YA Fiction and the Gothic  begins again in January and I just can’t wait to get our discussions around Gothic YA started. I will certainly take on board some ideas from the research that was showcased at the conference!

About Lucy Northenra

Senior Lecturer in Literature, University of Hertfordshire
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