Tackling Taboo Topics: Narrative Strategies in the Representation of Mental Illness Stigma in Young Adult Literature

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URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10900/152957
Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2024-04-24
Language: English
Faculty: 5 Philosophische Fakultät
Department: Anglistik, Amerikanistik
Advisor: Butter, Michael (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2024-02-08
DDC Classifikation: 810 - American literature in English
Other Keywords:
Mental Health
Mental Illness
Young Adult Literature
Narrative Strategies
Hero's Journey
Literary Criticism
License: http://tobias-lib.uni-tuebingen.de/doku/lic_ohne_pod.php?la=de http://tobias-lib.uni-tuebingen.de/doku/lic_ohne_pod.php?la=en
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This project investigates how representation of mental illness in young adult fiction explores, navigates and challenges mental illness stigmatization. What narrative strategies are used to show the impact of stigmatization on a character's identity and sense of self? The introduction offers an overview what entails stigma, mental illness representation in the American culture of the past 70 years and how (or whether) things have truly changed. Chapter 1 offers an overview of the fictional representation of mental illness in young adult literature since the early 2000s and highlights some common narrative themes and tropes, for instance the "love can cure a mental illness" trope and the theme of keeping one's mental illness a secret. The second part of the chapter addresses societal influences that played a crucial role in the changing awareness of mental health in the U.S. during the 2000s up until now. Each analytical chapter considers a different narrative strategy to discuss how stigma, both public and self-stigma, is represented in select novels. The novels are All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (2015), Tamara Ireland Stone’s Every Last Word (2015), History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (2017), It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (2007), Adib Khorram’s Darius the Great Is Not Okay (2018) and Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (2017). The narrative strategies that are studied are Joseph Campbell's hero's journey, the double motif and Vivian Cass's sexual identity model. The conclusion offers an outlook on mental illness representation in adaptations of popular YA novels such as Looking for Alaska by John Green and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

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