Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Donna L. Pasternak

Committee Members

Gregory Jay, Alice Gillam, Mary Louise Buley-Meissner, Margaret A. Noodin


Adolescent Literature, Magical Realism, Queer Literature, Queer Theory, Realism, Young Adult Literature


This dissertation examines books published for and marketed toward teen readers as cultural products and artifacts with the potential and the power to help shape young readers' ideas and understandings of the world, culture, and society around them in order to identify and investigate hegemonic forces or ideological apparatuses at play in young adult literature. From among the earliest young adult novels with characters who depict diverse gender and sexual identities, such as John Donovan's I'll Get There. It Better Be Worth Trip. in 1969, to the most contemporary, including Nick Burd's The Vast Fields of Ordinary in 2009, the genre of LGBTQIA young adult literature, or queer young adult literature, may be a particularly useful site for critical analysis of the binaries of heterosexuality vs. homosexuality, power vs. powerlessness, acceptance vs. rejection, and presence vs. absence. This dissertation utilizes queer theory to consider gender and sexuality as indeterminate and gender roles and sexual norms as mutable extends far beyond just homosexual men and lesbian women into all realms of identity politics to defamiliarize sex, gender, and sexuality and to possibly question or challenge such forces and apparatuses in queer young adult literature.