"Awkward Monster Fingers": the body in contemporary young adult fiction

Stephanie Thompson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Supposed monstrous bodies are the ones that unpick the stitches of the institutions that seek to control us, refusing to be docile; these are the bodies that rise up against oppression and tear governments apart at the seams. The posthuman body is neither tragic, nor is it victim. Contemporary young adult fiction represents an ultimate acceptance of such forms, suggesting that a constructed body offers empowerment to the individual. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson demonstrates a changed perception of the nonhuman body, from perceiving it as ‘monstrous’ to becoming a tool for social and political change. Jenna’s eventual acceptance of her constructed body has parallels with adolescent identity-formation and issues of body image. Furthermore, Jenna’s perception of her body reflects changing attitudes to the body in the twenty-first century, as science and technology offer new forms and, with these, reconceptualisation of identity and the human. While there is a distinctly humanist approach to subjectivity in the novel, the very idea of ‘human’ is challenged and transformed to accommodate the posthuman. Drawing on Foucault’s concept of docile bodies, this paper explores the way in which the body is represented in contemporary young adult fiction as a figure of change and transformation. In such narratives, constructed bodies challenge notions of the human and identity, and implore adolescent readers to query the institutions that enforce conformity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventQuite Frankly: It's A Monster Conference - University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Duration: 17 Oct 201819 Oct 2018


ConferenceQuite Frankly: It's A Monster Conference
Internet address


  • young adult fiction
  • posthumanism


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