Childrens Lit

Coming of
Age at the End of the World


are we experiencing a cultural moment so permeated with dystopian,
post-apocalyptic themes—and why do many works with these themes feature and
target teenagers? High-concept dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels have
flooded the young adult market, while literary novelists writing for adults
(Atwood, Mitchell, McCarthy, Ishiguro) spin similar stories. In this seminar,
we will write and think broadly about genre boundaries and narrative structure,
child and teenage readers, communal responses to disaster and trauma, utopian
and dystopian rhetoric, the roles of speculative fiction in our culture, and
the development of the notion of adolescence in America. We’ll explore what
elements of the idea of the American teenager survive in books that narrate the
dissolution of America or its aftermath; for comparison, we’ll also read
several books set in post-apocalyptic or dystopian Britain, examine a Japanese
film with interesting similarities to the popular Hunger Games series, and consider Duncan Jones’s Moon as a different sort of dystopian
coming-of-age story. Some shorter texts will be available on Laulima.


Course Requirements


2 short papers

1 longer analytical paper, including thesis approval and informal class

Critical methods assignments

Blog posts

Attendance and participation, including peer review

Required Texts (Available at UHM


, Lois Lowry

, Russell Hoban

Parable of the Sower
, Octavia Butler

M. T. Anderson

I Live Now
, Meg Rosoff

Let Me Go
, Kazuo Ishiguro