Queer Representation in Young Adult Fantasy Novels

Lara Slabber, Dr. Robert LaRue, and Prof. Kathleen Racculia, Department of English, Moravian College, 1200 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018

My project investigates the increase in queer representation in traditionally published young adult fantasy novels in the United States. The literary canon has historically been biased in favor of white, heterosexual, cisgender, middle class, able-bodied, and Christian authors and characters, but there has been an increase in the number of books published that are by diverse authors exploring ideas of queerness and queer representation. Young adult fantasy books about queer characters and characters of color, especially Black characters, have been published at rates never seen before in the publishing industry. I have been researching the extent of this shift and, through reading selected works, been studying the differences and similarities in various kinds of diverse queer representation. I have also been looking at fantasy novels and queer representation more broadly so as to properly contextualize this new wave of queer YA fantasy within its genres. It is necessary to look at the success of these books in the publishing industry and how that has changed over the last decade, to see how authors and industry professionals have consciously been championing this shift. By paying particular attention to recipients of literary awards and established bestseller lists, such as the New York Times Bestseller List, it is possible to gain perspectives on how novels interacting with ideas of queerness have been promoted in larger numbers by the publishing industry. Looking at the novels that are being published in the United States provides an indicator of the social change that is occurring in greater spheres of American society. If we are what we read, and what we’re reading grows increasingly queer, then we can look at queer representation in literature to gain insight into how queerness in writing and in society is shifting from being subversive to being part of a new normal.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Lara Slabber

Institution: Moravian College

Type: Poster

Subject: English & Literature

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 6
Date/Time: Tue 2:00pm-3:00pm
Session Number: 4632