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The Girl

Dead

Fiona Nelson

The dead girl genre of Young Adult (YA) literature is characterized by dying or recently deceased female narrators and/or central characters who embark on exciting new adventures once dying or dead, often find that they are now listened to and taken seriously, and generally find true love and satisfying sexual experiences. My concern is with these books as artifacts of a culture that allows little to no sexual agency or subjectivity for (living) teenaged girls and young women. In addition, we increasingly hear of cases of young women being harassed and bullied for their sexual activity, sometimes to the point of suicide. Based on a content analysis of these books, I consider the questions of how it is that dead has come to be promoted as a viable sexual subject position for young women, and how these books might actually nurture a culture of bullying and suicide.