Coming of Age in America: Representing Adolescence in Fiction and Film

Module code: EN3004

Module co-ordinator: Dr Sarah Graham

The 'coming of age' narrative is one of the most popular forms of literary and non-literary text in post-war America. Representations of the pleasures and troubles of growing up can be found across a range of fiction, nonfiction and film. In this module, you will compare various representations of adolescence and explore the issues they raise about sexuality, gender, family, religion, rebellion and trauma.

Topics covered

  • Carson McCullers - The Member of the Wedding (novel, 1946)
  • JD Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye (novel, 1951)
  • Rebel Without a Cause (film, 1955)
  • Paule Marshall - Brown Girl, Brownstones (novel, 1959)
  • The Graduate (film, 1967)
  • The Last Picture Show (film, 1971)
  • Margaret Atwood - Cat's Eye (novel, 1988)
  • Jeffrey Eugenides - The Virgin Suicides (novel, 1993)
  • Daniel Clowes - Ghost World (graphic novel, 1997)
  • Juno (film, 2007)
  • Sherman Alexie - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (novel, 2007)
  • John Green and David Levithan - Will Grayson, Will Grayson (novel, 2010)


  • two-hour seminars


  • Passage/scene analysis, 1,500 words (30%)
  • Essay, 3,500 words (70%)