Date of Graduation

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

English

Advisor

Jolliffe, David

Reader

Connors, Sean

Second Reader

Long, Mary

Third Reader

Goodman-Strauss, Chaim

Abstract

In this honors thesis, I focus on young adult novels that highlight rather than minimize the experience of having a mental disability, and I argue that this topic must be included in education and book discussions in order to create more inclusive classrooms and communities. I examine representations of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and autism in popular young adult novels, paying special focus to the way characters represent the relationship between power and disability. After reading a wide range of novels from award-winning bestsellers to reviewers’ recommendations, I noted the frequency of topics such as identity, community, institutions, and romanticization of mental disabilities. Drawing on both disability studies and young adult literature studies, I posed specific analytical questions for each broad theme in order to examine the relationship between power and disability in seven selected novels. By providing a concrete approach through my conceptual framework, I hope to offer a firm foundation that can assist other readers in their own analyses of empowering representations of disability in young adult literature.

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