Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 378–395 | Cite as

Space and Place and the “American” Legacy: Female Protagonists and the Discovery of Self in Two Novels for Young Adults

  • Wendy J. GlennEmail author
Original Paper


This qualitative literary analysis explores the intersection of place, space, and identity in two novels for young adults to explore how the provision of a new physical place provides space for independence development among female teen protagonists and the implications of this development given the authors’ identities as non-US authors writing about the US. Through the application of theories centered on conceptions of space and place and how they work together to influence the identity development of characters in literature, the piece examines how experiences in new places can provide space to redefine one’s personal identity and foster a sense of belonging. It recognizes the value of place-based narratives as stories that offer hope and inspiration to those longing to visit while simultaneously encouraging educators to support students in a critical reading of place to challenge misconceptions and romanticized views and build more complex understandings of communities and cultures that lie beyond the national borders in which they reside.


Young adult literature Literary analysis Identity Space and place theories Classroom teaching 



Thank you to Ricki Ginsberg for her lived and scholarly expertise in guiding me to think carefully and critically about my representation of Native Americans in this piece.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Neag School of EducationUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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