Researcher to discuss sexuality in young-adult literature

Researcher to discuss sexuality in young-adult literature

A longtime leader and researcher of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community will speak Thursday evening about LGBTQ-focused literature in school settings. 

Toby Emert, associate professor of English education at Agnes Scott College, will present a lecture titled "Straight Talk about the Market for Queer Young Adult Literature." 

Emert’s talk will address issues related to non-heterosexuality in young adult literature and will explore the reluctance of many high school and university teachers to include these novels in their curriculum, according to the event flyer.

"I will mainly focus on the market for young adult literature that features LGBTQ characters," Emert said. "Since the 2000s, there has been a change in the stories being published, the accessibility in school and the characters being featured."

He will also discuss the books that are particularly important to the trend of LGBTQ-focused young adult literature.

"Young adult literature is targeted to those between 12 and 18 years of age and portrays a teenage protagonist going through youthful issues like falling in love, discovering sexuality, rebelling or making plans for the future," said Sarah Robbins, the Lorraine Sherley professor of literature, said.

“The genre has been gaining popularity, and stories are now including LGBTQ characters, which has a profound impact on culture," Robbins said. "The only place the novels aren’t prominent are in school settings because of censorship and book-banning challenges.” 

The lecture is sponsored by the women's studies program and the Project on Young Adult Literature Today, an initiative of the university's instructional grants program, according to the flyer. The grant is funding a potential new English course called "YA Lit in the American Literary Marketplace." 

The public talk will take place in Scharbauer 1010 at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Before the talk, students are invited to join Emert at a drop-in coffee hour from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in Scharbauer 4015 to informally discuss LGBTQ issues that affect the university.