Suggestions for Term Projects: Masterpieces

of Young Adult Literature:


            In selecting a topic, foremost in your consideration should be how interested you are in the topic and how much you will be able to learn from the research.  Will you be able to use this project later in your academic career, or will it go into the round file at the end of the semester?  The format is open; guidelines are few.  The point of view may be personal or formal.  If you use outside sources, you must document those sources using the MLA style of documentation or the APA style of documentation.  If you plagiarize, you fail the assignment.  I suggest the project be ten to fifteen pages of prose, with one or two pages of documentation.  Be careful of over-using the internet for sources.  More reliable sou4rces are peer-reviewed professional journals.  Some of these journals are now available on the internet. 


            You may submit to me a one-page prospectus of the project before the paper is due.  I shall review the prospectus and offer constructive criticism of your topic and projected thesis.


            If you are an English major, or if you enjoy doing interpretive or comparative studies, you may want to consider one of the following:


·        Pick a common theme in the literature we study—e.g., rite of passage—and then show in a piece of Young Adult Literature how that theme plays out in the work?  How does the theme deviate from what is expected?  What is the significance of this deviation?


·        We have been discussing what constitutes a “masterpiece” of Young Adult Literature.  Defend a particular piece of literature as a masterpiece, using criteria from reliable sources.


·        Do a study of “revenge” novels, e.g., Carrie by Stephen King


            If you are an education major, you may want to compose an extended unit plan using Young Adult Literature.  The unit may be based on a theme, a genre, an historical period, or an issue.


            If you are a history or religious studies major, you may want to look at the literature as a piece of history or religion.  How does the piece reflect the values and events of the time in which it is written?


            Gender issues are always fun.  If you are interested in feminist readings of literature, try re-reading the literature with a close examination of how the female characters are represented.  What is the significance of this representation?


            If you are an art or music major you may compose an original piece of art for your term project.  Your art (in music or painting or sculpture) must reflect how the literature we read is present in your work—and why!  A composition may be performed or displayed, and it should also be accompanied by a shorter paper which explicates your understanding of the intersection of art and literature.


            How are certain “types” represented in YA literature—e.g., parents, teachers, the law.  What is the significance of this representation?


            Look at the changes in YA literature from Ragged Dick to “The Body.”  Do the changes in diction and subject matter concern you?  Read and analyze a book that deals with a taboo topic.  Is the book “age appropriate?” 


            Look at Young Adult Poetry.


            What do you think of this new phenomenon of “Verse Poetry?”


Other possibilities:


·        A study of teen magazines

·        A study of teen movies or how teens are represented in movies

·        A study of teen television or how teens are represented in television

·        A study of popular teen web sites

·        A study of teen music – types of music, evolution of music, artists, lyrics, etc.