Fat, cisgender, male protagonists in award-winning, young adult literature: An analysis

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Up to the present, most academic publications and conversations concerning fat characters in young adult literature center fat women and girls. When fat, male characters are addressed, they tend to be viewed through a single-axis lens, wherein their fatness is the only perceivable quality about them. This thesis aims to examine fat, male, cisgender protagonists in award-winning young adult literature through a multifaceted lens. It will address the following question: What structures of power shape fat, boy characters in modern young adult fiction and how do they shape them? The structures of power in question are race, gender, and disability, thus forming a multifaceted analysis of the characters. The purpose of this question is to gain a deeper understanding of these fat, male characters and to learn what happens when we apply this method of multifaceted study to works that have been analyzed using a single lens or not analyzed at all. Chapter One discusses the function of gender in terms of athleticism and how it defines what is a desirable male in heteronormative terms, determines how undesirable males should be treated, and has the power to make the protagonists’ fatness more acceptable. Chapter Two examines the role of male authority figures to the fat protagonists and how they worked to represent heteronormative, hegemonic masculinity in the novels. The final chapter discusses the racist and ableist roots of fatness as a choice in these novels.

Fat, Cisgender Males, Young Adult Literature, Fat Studies, Fat Boys