Ora McIntosh


Education: Bachelor of Arts in English (creative writing) (December 2014)

McNair Project: The Language of Trauma: Empathy and Identity Formation in Young Adult Novels (2014)

Mentor: Katherine Karlin, Ph.D.

In literature the element of trauma will cause change in the character experiencing the event. However, through the characters and language utilized in novels readers may also be subject to change. This seems especially true of young readers who come into contact with depictions of trauma in Young Adult (YA) novels. This is because these readers are already at a sensitive time in their lives when they are discovering and developing their own identities and therefore they may internalize what they read in YA novels in regards to trauma and how it can be dealt with. Through research of literary articles about trauma and by close reading passages from the YA novels Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Smoke by Ellen Hopkins, I will demonstrate how the language of trauma in YA novels can influence young readers.