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Graduation Term


Document Type

Dissertation-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

Committee Chair

Roberta S. Trites


In this project, I join the academic and cultural conversation surrounding adolescent desire; I analyze texts within the genre of young adult romance in order to determine how the genre constructs ideologies and limits of adolescent desire. My work takes the perspectives established by feminist narratology scholars Susan S. Lanser and Robyn Warhol, and adolescent literature scholars Sara Day and Michael Cart, among others, and applies them to the adolescent romance narrative. I begin this work be resituating the scholarly understanding of desire, uniting the elements of physical and emotional intimacy, which brings the emphasis of the novels themselves into the realm of criticism. My particular focus is on how specific voices within a text construct relationships both intra-textually (between two or more parties within the narrative world) and extra-textually (between entities within the text and the narratee/reader) and how these relationships then communicate particular ideologies about adolescent desire. I also attempt, through this work, to interrogate the general cultural perception of the romance genre as anti-feminist. I interrogate a series of popular young adult romances, both heterosexual and LGBTQ, to determine the narrative and relational patterns created by these texts. Ultimately, I argue that utilizing a relational theoretical framework, such as feminist narratology or ethics of care, allows for a reading of the genre that acknowledges the multiplicity and complexity of approaches to feminism found within texts of the YA romance genre.


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