Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of English
At a time when discussions about rape culture appear throughout social media and the news, our ability to consider how literature addresses these social issues is critical. The recent work of scholars discussing rape culture emphasizes the crucial need to consider what many understand (though many also continue to dismiss or diminish) as a serious social issue. While these cultural critiques are worthwhile, my focus shifts these critiques from general (American) culture or society to a particular expression of culture: the young adult novel. In this thesis, I examine how this cultural discourse surrounding rape culture and its related myths appear in four young adult novels: Isabel Quintero’s Gabi, A Girl in Pieces (2014), Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak (1999), Chris Lynch’s Inexcusable (2005), and Courtney Summers’s All The Rage (2015). Analyzing these novels, I explore how they attend to ideologies related to rape culture, and I argue that these novels complicate our understanding of rape culture and how this understanding reaches young adult audiences. While many forms of literature deal with aspects of rape culture, it is particularly important to consider how young adult texts address these issues because YA novels hold a special place in our culture as they are (often) the first texts written about the subject that young adults encounter. Moreover, even if young adults never encounter these texts, they are expressly marketed to a particular intended audience and hold particular explicit and implicit agendas, so there is a possibility these texts are either reacting to rape culture, perpetuating it—or both. The goal of my analysis is to illuminate the potential readings and consequences of young adult novels that portray rape. I further argue for putting these texts into conversation and under critical consideration, not banning, challenging, or censoring of such texts in any way, shape, or form.
Lewis, Katy, "She Wanted It? : Examining Young Adult Literature and Its Portrayals of Rape Culture" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 693.