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Reenvisioning space, mobilities and public engagement with young adult literature

Caroline Hamilton-McKenna (Department of Language and Literacy Education, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
Theresa Rogers (Department of Language and Literacy Education, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)

English Teaching: Practice & Critique

ISSN: 1175-8708

Article publication date: 21 December 2020

Issue publication date: 31 March 2021




In an era when engagement in public spaces and places is increasingly regulated and constrained, we argue for the use of literary analytic tools to enable younger generations to critically examine and reenvision everyday spatialities (Rogers, 2016; Rogers et al., 2015). The purpose of this paper is to consider how spatial analyses of contemporary young adult literature enrich interrogations of the spaces and places youth must navigate, and the consequences of participation for different bodies across those spheres.


In a graduate seminar of teachers and writers, we examined literary texts through a combined framework of feminist cultural geography, mobilities and critical mobilities studies. In this paper, we interweave our own spatial analyses of two selected works of young adult fiction with the reflections of our graduate student participants to explore our spatial framework and its potential to enhance critical approaches to literature instruction.


We argue that spatial literary analysis may equip teachers and students with tools to critically examine the spaces and places of everyday life and creatively reenvision what it means to be an engaged citizen in uncertain and troubling times.


While we have engaged in this work for several years, we found that in light of the global pandemic, coupled with the recent antiracist demonstrations, a spatial approach to literary study emerges as a potentially even more relevant and powerful component of literature instruction.



The authors would like to thank their participants for their engagement, creativity, and insight.

Funding: This article draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


Hamilton-McKenna, C. and Rogers, T. (2021), "Reenvisioning space, mobilities and public engagement with young adult literature", English Teaching: Practice & Critique, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 64-77.



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