Sharon Crossett

Proposed Title

Making boys disappear: maternal abandonment, heroic girlhood and emasculation in young adult dystopian fiction.


Contemporary young adult fiction sales have grown exponentially in recent years. Not since the "Harry Potter phenomenon", has there been such a buzz about reading young adult fiction. Alongside the surge in reading and growth of young adult publications are images of a troubled world. Climate change, political unrest, terrorism, famine, and class inequality represent a bleak prospect for humankind. 21st century teenagers are under increasing pressure from family, peers, schools, the government and media to perform. These elements come together in young adult dystopian fiction. Three such novels are Collins's The Hunger Games trilogy, Roth's Divergent quartet and Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy. In each, representations of girlhood and boyhood exist, whereby the protagonist saves the respective worlds from disaster. The young protagonist in each challenge gender binaries and in so doing achieves a sense of self. However, an inequality exists between girlhood and boyhood, whereby maternal abandonment impacts negatively on boyhood. That is, the loss of the maternal figure further challenges the young males' sense of self. This research asks how maternal abandonment defines girlhood and boyhood. It argues the representation of boyhood is (un)consciously silenced to allow for female empowerment at the expense of boyhood.

Why I chose Charles Sturt

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts via distance education at Charles Sturt, I completed Honours under the supervision of Dr. Mark Macleod, focusing on children's literature. I decided to continue my focus on children's literature through a PhD at Charles Sturt


Australasian Children's Literature Association for Research (ACLAR) member (2016 – current)


Crossett, Sharon (2016) "The feminine gaze: Effie Trinket's empowerment of Katniss Everdeen through performance" Paper presented at "Shifting landscapes: Diversity, text, young people." Australian Children's Literature Association for Research. Wagga Wagga (July).

Current candidate profiles