Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Degree Level





Lisa Hinrichsen

Committee Member

Sean Connors

Second Committee Member

Kay Yandell


Language, literature and linguistics, Adolescent literature, Mockingbird, Race, Southern literature, Young adult literature


This thesis applies southern literary theory to contemporary young adult literature (YAL) in order to analyze constructions and representations of the South and adolescence(ts) in the texts discussed. Arguing that Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird acts a master narrative for popular conceptions of southern adolescent identity, this project proposes that Lee’s 2015 novel Go Set a Watchman along with contemporary publications in YAL disrupts the master narrative Mockingbird and Scout Finch present readers. Though analyzing how representations of adolescence(ts) act as a construct used to establish a white-normative narrative about childhood, the second and third chapters discuss how this white-normativity has carried over into YAL, only to be challenged by the works of minority authors within the genre, who write about the South in ways that do not create space for southern exceptionalism or white-normativity. I conclude by offering pedagogues and educators a theoretical framework to use in teaching about the South, race, adolescence(ts) and teen agency in the secondary classroom.