Writing characters from under-represented communities: a perspective from an emerging young adult fiction writer

Hehir, Sylvia (2018) Writing characters from under-represented communities: a perspective from an emerging young adult fiction writer. DFA thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3320485


The category of young adult (YA) fiction encompasses a wide range of genres; but despite this generic diversity, it has so far failed to represent the full range of communities that make up contemporary British society. Discussions are ongoing between professionals in the publishing industry and campaigning individuals and organisations who are aiming to redress this imbalance. Writers making new work are in a position to help effect a change, but acknowledging and responding to the call for inclusion can be far from straightforward, with questions being raised such as: ‘how far can a writer stray from their own lived experience?’ and ‘how can a writer avoid tokenism or cultural appropriation when writing for inclusion?’
This thesis consists of a new YA contemporary novel, Sea Change, and an accompanying critical essay, which reflects on the challenges I encountered while aiming to write for inclusion. Set in the Scottish Highlands, Sea Change is a contemporary YA crime novel, in which the world of the sixteen-year-old protagonist, Alex, is thrown into turmoil when he discovers a dead body next to his fishing boat. The decisions Alex makes following this discovery set in motion the plot of the story. The narrative, as it unfolds, facilitates the exploration of themes frequently associated with adolescence, such as friendship, risk-taking and the maturation into an adult identity, along with themes specifically linked to Alex’s status as a member of marginalised communities because of his sexuality and social class, such as prejudice, acute stress brought on by economic pressure, and low self-esteem.
This thesis, then, reviews the opinions and recommendations being expressed by campaigners for greater diversity, and exposes the uncertainties and challenges a writer faces when aiming to write for inclusion.

Item Type: Thesis (DFA)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version, and an edited electronic version will be available once any embargo periods have expired.
Keywords: Under-represented communities, young adult fiction.
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NE Print media
P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies
Supervisor's Name: Reeder, Dr. Elizabeth K. and Maslen, Dr. Robert
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Dr Sylvia Hehir
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30716
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2018 08:53
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2021 13:38
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.30716
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/30716

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