Title page for ETD etd-11042011-161820

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Cantey, Charity Elise
Author's Email Address ccantey@lsu.edu
URN etd-11042011-161820
Title (Be)Coming Home: The Complexity of Home as Revealed in Young Adult Novels of Disaster
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Educational Theory, Policy, & Practice
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Trousdale, Ann Committee Chair
Bach, Jacqueline Committee Member
Bickmore, Steven Committee Member
Casbergue, Renee Committee Member
Novak, Daniel Dean's Representative
  • young adult literature
  • home
  • disaster
  • displacement
  • adolescent literature
  • phenomenology
Date of Defense 2011-10-24
Availability unrestricted
Inspired by the researcher’s work with five displaced New Orleans teenagers in the months after Hurricane Katrina, this research examined twelve young adult novels in which characters face a loss of or damage to home in the wake of a natural or humanly-caused disaster. The study sought ways in which home is represented in young adult literature of disaster by analyzing passages in which characters discuss, remember, imagine, and rebuild or reestablish home after its damage or loss. A phenomenological approach was used to examine these fictional experiences of home in order to discern their contribution to an understanding of the concept of home itself.

Findings indicated that the novels represented home as a complex concept brought to light in its absence. Characters’ experiences of home included elements of the social (relationship with others in home places); the personal (identity and ownership); the physical/geographical (locations that are home); the instinctual (an innate drive to seek a place of safety and shelter); the emotional (emotional connections to home and the emotional upheaval of displacement); and the temporal/historical (time spent in home places).

With disaster continuing to strike across the globe—earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados—a deeper understanding of the nature of displacement and the ways in which home is conceptualized and rebuilt is of value for both the teens who read young adult literature and the adults who work with them. By attending to the ways in which characters grapple with notions of home in the face of disaster, teachers, librarians, and researchers can gain insight into the needs of those displaced from home. Readers, both teens and adults, can gain empathy regarding the experience of home’s loss, and those who find themselves struggling with recreating a sense of home can find comfort and insight in characters’ experiences.

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