Reading Gender in Late Nineteenth-Century Young Adult Literature

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2012

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Germanic Languages and Literatures

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation adds to the ongoing discussion of how to analyze gender in works written for young people. It focuses on young adult literature for both boys and girls from Germany's imperial period, and specifically on the genres of advice literature, boarding school novels, and sea-adventure stories. In the German context, scholars have already used feminist methods to explore gender roles in young adult fiction from this time period, focusing primarily on how girls' books transmitted ideals of femininity. There is less published work on gender in books for boys from all time periods, and there is less published research on gender in German young adult fiction in general than on gender in British or American children's and young adult literature. Building upon existing feminist scholarship, this dissertation uses recent insights from the field of queer theory about time, memory, children and childhood to re-examine works for both boys and girls written in German between 1840 and 1910. Although queer theorists have focused intently on the child as a metaphor and on the meaning of the queer child in the past decade, queer scholarship has only rarely been used to examine works produced for young people. This dissertation proposes that queer insights on such subjects as the passage of time and the productive nature of shame as it relates to identity provide powerful tools for reading the process of growing into adult femininity or masculinity in German young adult literature of the imperial period.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Lynne Tatlock

Committee Members

Gerhild Williams, Erin McGlothlin, Matt Erlin, Mary Ann Dzuback, Michael Sherberg


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K7K935G3

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