Date of Award
Undergraduate Honors Thesis/Project
Honors Program Director
In accordance with philosopher Gaston Bachelard's interpretation of literary interiors as the cosmoses one creates through inhabited space, this thesis focuses on a narrow yet thorough investigation of how interiority reflects the transformative journey of characters within contemporary children's literature of the Western world. Such interiors are used to compelling effect within the bildungsromane of contemporary youth fiction, with the sanctuaries and prisons depicted throughout such novels linked to the various stages of the protagonists' journeys toward self-actualization (i.e., one's realization of, and movement toward, his or her potential). In particular, three popular young adult series combine the hero's journey with literary interiority in highly compelling ways: The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-1956) by C.S. Lewis, the Harry Potter series (1997-2007) by J.K. Rowling, and The Hunger Games trilogy (2008-2010) by Suzanne Collins. The protagonists of these works undergo a transformational journey – the quintessential theme of coming-of-age literature – with the trajectory of their quests definable through the interiors they encounter and the significance of the perceptions regarding both self and community that they gain from their experiences within those interiors.
O'Rourke, Paige, "The Search for Self: Childhood Interiors and Identity in Contemporary Young Adult Literature" (2012). Honors Senior Theses/Projects. 64.