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Queer Theory and the Logic of Adolescence

Owen, Gabrielle (2011) Queer Theory and the Logic of Adolescence. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation is an interdisciplinary examination of the history and theory of adolescence. I draw on a variety of materials, from both Britain and the United States, including nineteenth- and early twentieth-century newspapers and periodicals, literary texts, educational treatises, advertisements, pamphlets, and medical discourse which reveal the term and the category of adolescence as it has been put into service by fields like medicine, psychology, education, and public policy. Methodologically, I use this range of materials to look for patterns, tracing not only the word and concept of adolescence, but the construction and circulation of social meanings associated with adolescence. Queer theory understands categories of gender and sexuality as unstable, shifting, malleable, contextual—and this project understands that theorized complexity as belonging to the past as well as the present, in the movement of adolescence as a term and a concept. Among constructivist studies of adolescence, scholars often cite G. Stanley Hall's exhaustive two-volume work Adolescence (1904) as a point of origin, the beginning of what we recognize today as adolescence. This project maps out a trajectory of fragmented, multi-purposed conceptualizations of adolescence, one that precedes Hall and continues after him, a mapping that brings to light the surprising movement and instability of this trajectory over time. If we understand language and meaning as having a certain flexibility, as moving with each iteration and reiteration, then my framing historical question is not whether adolescence existed in earlier centuries, but how the concept existed, and more specifically, how it existed in shifting and interconnected discourses, such as nineteenth-century American newspapers and British sex education pamphlets from the 1930s and 40s. This methodology allows me to speak to the perplexing question of how language constitutes social realities and modes of knowledge. My research encompasses a wide range of materials and historical moments to explore the ideological dimensions of adolescence, ones that circulate and reappear in very specific, located contexts. This project brings to light a nonlinear history that reframes present assumptions about adolescence and opens up the category as a powerful site for work in queer theory, cultural studies, and literary studies.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCarr, Jean Fergusonjcarr@pitt.eduJCARR
Committee MemberBlee, Kathleenkblee@pitt.eduKBLEE
Committee MemberGubar, Marahmjg4@pitt.eduMJG4
Committee MemberGlazener, Nancyglazener@pitt.eduGLAZENER
Committee MemberCarr, Stephen L.scarr@pitt.eduSCARR
Date: 29 September 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 11 July 2011
Approval Date: 29 September 2011
Submission Date: 18 July 2011
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: childhood; children's literature; Foucault; historical ontology; history of homosexuality; Jacqueline Rose; readers; reading; reproductive futurism; teenagers; young adult literature
Other ID:, etd-07182011-163640
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:52
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:46


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