Night of Awakening: Strength and Empowerment in the Young Adult Fantasy Genre


Shelby Davis

Faculty Mentor(s)

Sarah Sillin (English Language and Literature), M. O’Brien (English Language and Literature)


The Young Adult Fantasy genre is often written off as a useless, or immature form of writing. However, there are studies that prove that this specific genre is not only engaging, but it is also empowering for young readers. By writing toward adolescents readers, authors are able to promote various ways in which their characters adjust or interact with their surroundings, which also influences their reader’s self and social awareness. By representing feminist perspectives and depicting the effects of trauma, YA literature fosters progressive social change and conveys the importance of mental health. In writing my own novel, The Night of Awakening, for my Douglas Honors College Thesis, I discovered how my own characters could represent young women’s power and mental health awareness to change long-standing institutions. My main character, Alina, is isolated from all those around her because of a mysterious power that has taken her hostage. While seemingly “powerless” in a world of magic, Alina embodies feminist power as she finds her own ways to battle ancient powers and acknowledge the trauma her own family has inflicted upon her. By using scholarly articles to meter my study, I was able to discover the ways in which my novel might impact the literature scene and influence young, impressionable minds. This presentation will briefly highlight debates over YA literature’s effects and then offer one model of how the genre can teach empowerment through a reading of a brief scene from my work.

Keywords: Fantasy, YA Literature, Creative Writing, Academic Service Learning, Diversity, Sustainability


1 thought on “Night of Awakening: Strength and Empowerment in the Young Adult Fantasy Genre”

  1. Excellent work, Shelby! I was really intrigued by your explanation of how the YA fantasy genre allows for so many possibilities of feminist storytelling in how female characters assert their own power. I enjoyed your book excerpt, and your character, Alina, sounds like a compelling protagonist!

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