Young Adult Lit/Crit

February 8, 2008

Seminar Topic Suggestion?

Filed under: Seminar Topics — sunyprof @ 7:37 am

• Star-Crossed Lovers? (a la Romeo and Juliet–hey, ya gotta teach it in a lot of places)

• Rock and Roll YA (some very fun stuff)

• Short stories for YA’s

Choices to date:
• Josh–graphic texts
• Jessica–sex and sexuality in YA
• Erica–pregnant and parenting teens
• Joyce–construction of characters with autism/aspergers in YA
• Kari–depression and suicide in YA
• Kate–mysteries for YA
• Raph–science fiction for YA’s
• Erin–poetry for YA’s

MANDO Books in Cortland (Main St.) has copies of DRAMA HIGH and TYRELL for anyone who is still looking for these titles. They do not yet have copies of FEATHERS. DO let me know here what you still need and whether or not you have a copy of the Woodson title. Thanks!



  1. Hi all,

    My topic is ruminating around these areas – stories of political turmoil/war/genocide and memoirs. I’d love feedback and/or suggestions if you have any.

    Thanks, Karen, for sharing other people’s topics. I have some recommendations of books for some of them:

    Josh, I suspect you are all set with graphic novel advice – you sounded pretty well-informed last night 🙂 My experience is with MAUS, PERSEPOLIS, IN THE SHADOW OF NO TOWERS, and a book called MAKING UP MEGABOY.

    Jessica – I read RAINBOW BOYS for book club. There’s a post about it on this blog. There are at least two other books about the same characters. Also, there’s a “poetry memoir” called TALKING IN THE DARK by Billy Merrell – it’s about a boy coming to terms with his homosexuality. Here’s its link: I’ve only heard about it, but haven’t read it myself.

    Erica – THE FIRST PART LAST by Angela Johnson. Teenage pregnancy from a male perspective. My ninth graders read and loved this book (the girls and the boys)

    Joyce, I am interested to hear what you find. I’m sorry I don’t have any experience with books about autism/Asperger’s.

    Kari, I can’t think of anything for your topic other than 13 REASONS WHY, which I know you’ve read. I’m reading it for book club this week, and I can see how this would spark your interest in this topic.

    Kate – Robert Cormier’s books would work, although you’ve probably already read them… Also, Caroline B. Cooney, I think. My experience with YA mystery is (obviously) limited and most likely outdated 🙂

    Raph, since science fiction is not a passion of mine, I don’t really have anything to offer. On the other hand, your seminar will be really helpful for me and just hearing your topic makes me think that I should venture into this genre for some book club books.

    Erin – I immediately thought of I WOULDN’T THANK YOU FOR A VALENTINE: POEMS FOR YOUNG FEMINISTS Edited by Carol Ann Duffy. YOU REMIND ME OF YOU by Eireann Corrigan – it’s called a “poetry memoir” and covers issues of suicide, eating disorders and (obviously depression). Here’s a link to it on Amazon: I own both of these books, so if you’d like me to bring them in so you can see if it would work for your seminar just let me know.
    Another poetry memoir is TALKING IN THE DARK by Billy Merrell – it’s about a boy coming to terms with his homosexuality. Here’s its link: I’ve only heard about it, but haven’t read it myself.

    I hope some of these suggestions are helpful, and I’m sorry I don’t have suggestions for everyone. Just hearing your topics makes me look forward to your seminars.


    Comment by sostrom — February 8, 2008 @ 3:26 pm

  2. Sarah, thank you so much for making these suggestions and offering these resources. You should be able to embed these links in your comments. Or is it working only when you post? Important to seminar choices is the raison d’etre–why these titles and not others like them? So that’s something to be thinking about as you sift through titles. You want to have a clear organizing principle–so for example, they are all books that focus on young women’s experiences in nations currently at war, or all focus on boy soldiers*, or are all teens growing up in repressive regimes in books written in the last decade, etc. etc. You want that clear “frame” for your choices. KES

    *I see today in the paper that al-Qaida militants are training 10 year olds in Iraq hideouts to kidnap and kill according to an AP release…

    Comment by sunyprof — February 8, 2008 @ 7:36 pm

  3. I was thinking about possibilities for other seminar topics, and someone could study peer pressure and YA Lit or teen obesity and distorted self perception in YA lit? Or how about dealing with death and YA lit? These are just a few suggestions that I would be interested to learn more about if someone were to do a seminar on them.

    Comment by kariredmond — February 8, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

  4. Hi everyone,

    Sarah gave me a wonderful suggestion for my seminar and I am going to use it: Drugs/Addiction in YA lit. Would this be acceptable Dr. Stearns? I am going to the library today to check out some titles.

    Thanks Sarah!

    Comment by mandygrl101 — February 9, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

  5. Sarah- Thank you for all the help and suggested material! I will certainly look into it all! Good luck with your topic. -Jessica

    Comment by jexter1 — February 9, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

  6. Professor Stearns,
    In class last thursday, I had mentioned doing my seminar on the post-911 middle east tensions at home and abroad for my seminar. Do you still think this would be ok? let me know! thanks!

    Comment by allison — February 11, 2008 @ 9:08 am

  7. I guess I am the only one really into science fiction/fantasy. Such a great, sadly underrated literary genre. Luckily, I have been reading the Uglies series thanks to Kari’s recommendation, and I just picked up part one of a new series entitled The Twelve Kingdoms by Fuyumi Ono(it’s new to me anyways, and still on-going from what I understand). I know that Orson Scott Card re-made Ender’s Game into a significantly less dense YA paperback, so I was thinking of checking that out as well, considering my knowledge of the original and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead. The big appeal for me with this genre is how it transcends all media, and I hope I can do it justice in my seminar.

    Comment by traverse02 — February 15, 2008 @ 4:20 pm

  8. Raph,

    I’m just finishing Eragon this week for book club (LOVE it!) so just thought I’d go ahead and recommend it to you. It’s long, but it’s a fast read. Dragons, magic, evil kings and winged things… all the good stuff.


    Comment by joycehansen — February 15, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

  9. Hi Raph, here are some great short story suggestions for your sci fi seminar:

    Orson Scott Card’s Unaccompanied Sonata
    Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest or The Ones who Walk Away from Omelas
    James Tiptree Jr (Alice Sheldon’s) Houston Houston Do You Read?
    Geo. Saunders’ “Jon.”

    These are all extremely powerful. They might be longish, but they deal with important issues.

    A few more titles–have you checked out:

    The Dark Side of Nowhere. (Shusterman)
    Spacer and Rat (Bechard) Definitely check this one out.
    Rash (Hautman)
    Stolen Voices (Davidson)
    Shade’s Children (Nix)
    Turnabout (Haddix)
    The Secret Under My Skin (McNaughton)
    Life as We Knew It
    Writing Your Own Science Fiction Story (Farell) Might be interesting to have in your collection


    Comment by sunyprof — February 15, 2008 @ 5:42 pm

  10. Thank you for the recommendations. I read Eragon last semester and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Eldest. I wasn’t too impressed by Eragon, but can imagine Paolini has improved in his craft since he was only 15 at the time Eragon was published. I will be sure to check out all of these titles for the seminar. I’m more of a hardcore science fiction buff (Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert, Murakami, Noon, etc.) so I am looking forward to seeing what the YA world has to offer.

    Comment by traverse02 — February 16, 2008 @ 1:18 pm

  11. P.S. The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow is incredible so far, can’t wait to share this title with you guys.

    Comment by traverse02 — February 16, 2008 @ 1:20 pm

  12. Raph, wouldn’t you classify ERAGON as fantasy not sci fi? I’m searching sci fi titles for you. K

    Comment by sunyprof — February 16, 2008 @ 2:09 pm

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