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SEL3434 : Making Young Adult Literature

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Lucy Pearson
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 48 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


Teenage literature, books for new adults, YA… while the name may have changed, specialist publishing for adolescent readers has existed in the UK since (at least) the 1950s. But how have people thought about this category of literature, and how has it been marketed, circulated and read? This module will explore the history of young adult books in the UK. It will consider:

• How ideas about adolescents and their relationship to literature have changed since the early twentieth century
• The poetics of young adult literature: do these books have distinctive literary characteristics, or is this just a marketing category?
• The ways in which books for this age group have been published and marketed

We will consider the influence of publishing traditions from elsewhere, but will focus on texts first published in the UK.

Students will have the opportunity to use archives and special collections to support the book history / publishing dimensions of the module. We will consider what the material book can tell us about attitudes to books for adolescents, and examine how publishers and authors have approached the field.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lectures will focus on the history of the field, providing context on the social and publishing history which has shaped books for adolescents. Seminars will focus on specific texts, inviting students to consider how this context affected the development of the literature. Workshops will focus on skills and methodologies, including the use of archives and special collections.

The syllabus will vary from year to year. Indicative texts include:

* Dodie Smith - I Capture the Castle
* Elfrida Vipont - The Lark on the Wing
* Alan Garner - The Owl Service
* Berlie Doherty - Dear Nobody
* Aidan Chambers - Postcards from No Man's Land

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading185:0085:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching92:0018:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities23:006:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery13:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity101:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study135:0035:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Methods are varied as is appropriate to the breadth and diversity of the module's content and intended learning outcomes. The lectures offer students wide-ranging overviews of the historical development of literature for adolescents, its relation to British culture and publishing, and critical strategies and methodologies appropriate to its study. One important strand of the module is the opportunity to gain experience of literary research in archives and special collections: the workshops will offer students he opportunity to gain practical skills related to this area, while further opportunities to engage with this type of research will be offered through structured online activities. Building on this foundation, the two-hour seminars are designed to enable active learning and include short lectures focused on particular writers, plenary discussions, student presentations, and group work.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2A752500 words
Practical/lab report2M2025 minutes group activity / presentation Alternative assessment (in case of PEC): 5 minutes individual recorded activity / presentation
Computer assessment2M5N/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

In-class study group activity
Students will be encouraged to take responsibility for their own and their peers' learning, and to expand their knowledge of YA literature in the UK, via an in-class student-led exercise. This assessment will enable students to develop their expertise as independent researchers by asking them to choose and develop a focus which reflects their interests. They will develop their skills in group work and oral communication, which are particularly relevant to possible future careers.

Where students are unable to participate in the group activity (in case of PEC only) they will practice similar skills but on an individual basis. In place of skills in group work, this alternative assessment will develop students' ability to disseminate information to other through audio or video communication.

Computer assessment - multiple choice skills quiz
Students will master key module terminology and practical skills relating to archives and book history through a short multiple choice quiz.

Written exercise
A summative written essay will ask students to bring together their understanding of the historical and theoretical basis of the module to produce their own investigation into a text or aspect of literature for adolescents.

Reading Lists