Theme: Critical Conversations About YA Literature
Deadline: February 1, 2015
The shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri this past summer served to remind us of the racial and class inequities that many Americans confront in the twenty-first century. In the wake of Ferguson, some educators took to social media sites such as Twitter and advocated engaging secondary and college students in critical conversations about race, class, gender, and so on. Describing the shape that such conversations might take, Charles Blow, writing for the New York Times, argues, “Experiences must be explored. Histories and systems must be laid bare. Biases, fears, stereotype and mistrust must be examined. Personal — as well as societal and cultural — responsibility must be taken.” Although Young Adult literature represents a vehicle that teachers and students can put toward these ends, it also participates in the ideological manipulation of readers. As such, it is important that readers approach it critically.
This issue of SIGNAL Journal is devoted to exploring the intersections between Young Adult literature, identity politics, and critical literacy. How do you create opportunities for secondary or college students to read Young Adult literature critically? How do you support them in applying literary theories to identify and interrogate oppressive ideologies? What opportunities do you create for students to interact with books written by diverse authors about diverse characters? What can critical readings of individual Young Adult novels reveal about the ideological positions they invite readers to embrace? How do specific texts resist or subvert dominant ideologies? What challenges might educators interested in engaging students in critical conversations about YA literature expect to face? In short, to paraphrase Walter Dean Myers, what opportunities do you create for all students to recognize themselves in stories, validate their existence as human beings, and acknowledge their value? Theoretical as well as practitioner-oriented submissions are encouraged.