Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of English
Mary Jeanette Moran
In “Sleuths as Social Activists: Negotiations of Power & Morality in YA Sleuthing Stories” I aim to explore how adolescent sleuthing stories intersect with negotiations of power, subjectivity, and relationality within the structures and confines of adolescent literature to challenge oppressive paradigms. This project will begin with a focus on gender dynamics, using ethics of care to compare Wendelin Van Draanen’s girl sleuth Sammy Keyes to Anthony Horowitz’s boy sleuth Alex Rider. This analysis of gender will then expand into an intersectional exploration of how age and race additionally implicate how Sammy Keyes and Alex Rider negotiate power and morality in their sleuthing pursuits, including an examination of how their whiteness disproportionately privileges these characters at the expense or erasure of marginalized groups. Finally, I will argue that relationships are presented differently in sleuthing stories featuring an individual agent, such as Sammy Keyes or Alex Rider, when compared to multi-agent sleuthing stories such as Bond Team in A.J. Butcher’s Spy High series or in the tabletop role-playing game BubbleGumshoe: A Teen Detective Story Game created by Emily Care Boss, Kenneth Hite, and Lisa Steele. In making this comparison, I will highlight components of single-agent and multi-agent sleuthing stories that I argue are key to the sleuthing story’s ability to act as a counternarrative to oppressive systems.
Sanford, Heather Leigh, "Sleuths as Social Activists: Negotiations of Power & Morality in Ya Sleuthing Stories" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 1305.