Contemporary Young Adult Fiction

Course Dates: 20/09/21 - 08/11/21
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Online
This course will introduce and discuss a branch of Children’s Literature known as Young Adult (YA) Fiction. It is also sometimes referred to as Adolescent or Teenage Fiction. We will read books like Malorie Blackman’s Noble Conflict (2013) and Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours (2015). YA Fiction often addresses complex and challenging topics, like conflict, social class, gender, sexuality, and disability. It tends to depict heroes and heroines who may not always have carefree traditional backgrounds or happy-ever-after endings. They can face vast struggles and uncertainties, like those amplified in the increasingly turbulent and precarious world beyond the text.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
In stock
Full fee £129.00 Senior fee £129.00 Concession £79.00

Course Code: HLT252

Mon, eve, 20 Sep - 08 Nov '21

Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This online literature course will introduce us to a selection of YA texts, and how they explore adolescent development and grapple with real-world issues, like social class, racial politics and sexuality. Because YA Fiction frequently contains controversial subject matter and confronts this head-on with challenging themes and issues, it is often regarded by adults who may wish to prolong concepts of childhood innocence, as unsuitable for teenage consumption and, in turn, can be subject to censorship. We will touch upon this tension between YA Fiction and its gatekeepers, as the narratives seek to engage with social concerns that will impact upon teenagers who will become future adult citizens.

For critic Rachel Falconer, though, it is imperative that adolescents are prepared for their transition to adulthood; she asserts, ‘In an era in which many young people grow up surrounded by violence and crime, it is important that the books and films they read and watch should address the reality of their lives’ (2009). In addressing these debates, we will explore dominant themes in the novels, such as maturation, belonging, family, gender, sexuality, adolescent autonomy, and community.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

During this course, a range of contemporary YA Fiction from Britain and Ireland will be read. Our online classes will discuss the novels by paying close attention to important issues and themes like home, characters, setting, narrative voice, isolation, endings, love, paratext, censorship, power, and maturation. We will consider to what extent YA Fiction grapples with and transcends traditional notions of childhood, and how each text achieves this. In our reading and discussion, we will determine how successful we think the YA format is as a sub-category of Children’s Literature.

Reading and discussion will focus upon the following texts: Malorie Blackman, Noble Conflict (2013); Louise O’Neill, Only Ever Yours; Martin Stewart, The Sacrifice Box (2018); Dean Atta, The Black Flamingo (2019).

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Have a knowledge of a range of YA Fiction, including some you may be unfamiliar with previously.
Understand YA Fiction’s evolvement within the wider Children’s Literature genre.
Become aware of some critical responses to YA Fiction.
Critically analyse these novels, supported with secondary reading material.
Have a knowledge of some major themes and issues within the novels.
Gain an understanding of the importance of YA Fiction’s role pedagogically and socio-politically.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

It is anticipated that you will have an interest in or even passion for literature, and a willingness to develop your critical enjoyment of YA Fiction, but no previous skills or knowledge are required for this course. Some preparatory reading will be necessary before each class, and a willingness to participate in class discussions, while also respectably listening and responding to others is desirable.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

This class will be held in 90 minute slots each week over an eight-week period. Each class will be divided into an interactive short lecture with power point, as well as large and small group workshop and discussion focussing on the texts in more detail. Class preparation in advance is required by reading the set texts and any supplementary reading provided for that session.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Please purchase or borrow the following books:

Malorie Blackman, Noble Conflict (Corgi, 2014 or Doubleday, 2013)
Louise O’Neill, Only Ever Yours (Quercus, 2015, or Riverrun, 2015)
Martin Stewart, The Sacrifice Box (Penguin, 2018)
Dean Atta, The Black Flamingo (Hodder Children’s Books, 2019 or 2020 – either date will do)
Any other material will be provided by the tutor.

(N.B. Books can often be purchased second-hand on, for instance, or

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other Literature courses under History, Culture and Writing/Literature at

Fiona McCulloch

Fiona McCulloch is a Literature academic, specialising in Children’s Literature, Young Adult Fiction, Scottish Literature, Contemporary British Fiction, Women’s Writing, Victorian Literature, Twentieth-Century Literature, Cosmopolitanism, Posthumanism, and Ecocriticism. She was Lynn Wood Neag Distinguished Visiting Professor of British Literature at the University of Connecticut in 2015. As well as publishing several peer-reviewed journal articles, her books include Contemporary British Children’s Fiction and Cosmopolitanism (2017), Cosmopolitanism in Contemporary British Fiction: Imagined Identities (2012), Children’s Literature in Context (2011), and The Fictional Role of Childhood in Victorian and Early Twentieth-Century Children’s Literature (2004). She also writes poetry and is published in Northwords, Mechanics Institute Review Online, Lumpen, and Dreich (forthcoming).

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.