Kelly's Writing

Queens College

Research Proposal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly Santana at 9:48 pm on Wednesday, November 23, 2016

For my research project I will be focusing on three books that are works of Young Adult Literature. These books are, The Fault in our Stars by John Green, Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. All three of these books have one commonality, and that is that they actively deal with the topic of death. Some research questions they raise are: Why has death becomes such a popular theme/topic in Y/A novels? What may be the importance and influence of discussing death in Y/A novels? What impact may a young character dealing with death in a novel have on the mind and development of a young reader? Why might there be a fascination or interest in death for young adult readers?

The secondary sources I’d possibly like to use for my research project will help me in understanding the genre I will be engaging with, and will also allow me to analyze the books I will be using and how they bring up important questions and ideas about the topic of death in Y/A novels. To gain a better understanding of Young Adult novels for my project, I will use Carrie Hintz’s, Reading Children’s Literature: A Critical Introduction. I want to use an article titled, “Young adult reactions to death in literature and in life” by Sandrea Deminco, in order to discuss how adolescents deal with and understand death differently than adults, and the influence of death in a Y/A novel. I also would like to use a text titled, Death, Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Adolescent Literature by Kathryn James to explore the understanding of death and its impact on identity and development in adolescence. Another article I will be considering is by Alleen Pace Nilsen, called, “Books for Young Adults: Death and Dying: Facts, Folklore”, that explores the phenomenon of death in Y/A novels. I also want to include sources that focus on the psychological development of a young adult and how an adolescent may understand or perceive death differently.

The discussion of death in Young Adult novels has become extremely popular recently, and I want to understand why that is and what importance the topic death has on the social/psychological development of a young adult. I want to further explore the idea that death in Y/A literature has a positive effect and impact on the developing minds and identities of young adults.



2 Comments

43

   zahava

November 24, 2016 @ 3:48 pm

Hey, I really like your topic! I do want to comment that as far as I’m aware Me Before You isn’t considered YA (technically) but I still think it will be very helpful and generate good research. There are also a lot of deaths in Hunger Games that might get you some research because it’s a popular text/movie. Some other books that might be helpful for looking at your project in different ways are Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why because it goes through the seemingly minute 13 reasons that someone killed herself and how they all added up- it provides the reasons of why someone might kill him/herself from the perspective of a teen and another book, Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira is made up of letters that a teen girl sends to dead people about her life. They both look at death in unconventional ways- maybe they might be cool to analyze. Also, you write that you want to explore the positive effects but I think there are also a lot of negative effects that you would have to explore as well. It’s also interesting to note that all the books you chose became movies. Overall, really great topic! (PS you can also use The Perks of Being a Wallflower because the whole book kinda stems from his friend’s death to show the effects- sorry I’ll stop suggesting books. I just really like YA books.)

45

   Chani Rubenstein

November 27, 2016 @ 5:03 pm

Hi Kelly! I love your topic. It’s very true that a lot of realistic YA novels do focus on death, while many others have death as at least a large presence. The novels that you chose (I’ve only read TFIOS. Don’t judge!) seem to concentrate on the social aspect of dying. I know in TFIOS, the focus kind of bothered me. It’s was a book about living that happened to be interrupted by death. Death is seen as something that the characters consciously try to ignore. As pointed out by Zahava, most YA literature does involve dying, but I would argue that this is something that isn’t unique to YA literature. Just think about the zombie fascination.
You seem to be focusing on portraits of the adolescent living/dying, which is fascinating. I think that your secondary sources will be very useful to you as you explore this strange phenomenon. As someone who shies away from this genre, all I can tell you is that books like these are being marketed to the right demographic. My middle-school students are obsessed with the idea of death. It’s not that they want to die, but they just haven’t had that much exposure to death, necessarily, and are also at an age where they feel invincible. Death is a foreigner, so they don’t feel as uncomfortable reading about it. Could such literature be comforting to children who have lost family or friends? Can it make people more sensitive? I hope your paper will address the empathy/sympathy aspect! I would recommend that you pick up a book or two on developmental psychology. I can lend you one of my adolescent psych books, if you think it might be useful. Researchers such as Lev Vygotsky might be useful in talking about stages of development, and tying your paper in with popular psychological theories of development. Overall, I love your paper, and feel very confident that you will do an amazing job wth it! Good luck, and be well!

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