Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis



Reader 1

John Peavoy

Reader 2

Jacqueline Wernimont

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Rights Information

© 2014 Elena D. Sharma


Young adult novels are undeniably popular and yet they are simultaneously dismissed as inconsequential or light – conventionally deemed low literature, these novels are generally not considered worthy to be discussed in the same spaces as the less popular, more traditional high literature. If a genre of young adult novels were given a place within literary history, it would not only legitimize these novels as more than guilty pleasures or the provinces of adolescent readers who will come to grow out of them, but it would also open up the possibility for other forms of literature to be similarly recognized as worth reading or thinking about. The Bildungsroman, also known as the “novel of formation” or the more colloquial “coming-of-age” novel, is a genre grounded in the traditions of multiple literary histories and is commonly understood to be high literature. Marianne Hirsch models the European Bildungsroman, which is useful for both American novels due to the predominance of European and particularly English canon. This paper is interested in determining how contemporary young adult dystopian novels, examined through the Scott Westerfeld's Uglies and Veronica Roth's Divergent, both work within and depart from the conventions of the traditional Bildungsroman.