Title

Institutionalizing The 'Outsiders': YA Literature, Social Class, and the American Faith In Education

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-1-2007

Department

English

Abstract

The Outsiders is often credited with marking the emergence of YA literature. It was written by a teenager and was intended to represent honestly the difficult lives of other young adults. Despite the novel's audience and purpose and its potentially provocative acknowledgment of the problems of social class, The Outsiders was readily institutionalized as part of school reading lists and educational curricula throughout the United States. Its institutionalization can be accounted for in part by the way it offers a palliative to the problems it depicts. The protagonist, Ponyboy, represents the novel itself as an intervention into those problems, but it works to reaffirm a notion of rugged individualism and a faith in American education. Such lessons ultimately disarm the novel's class critique and render it safe for educational institutions.

Publication Title

Children's Literature In Education

Volume

38

Issue

2

First Page

87

Last Page

101