‘Like a monstrous ball of dough’: Challenging fat boy tropes in young adult novels

[thumbnail of RYAN_Sean-Thesis_nosignature.pdf]
RYAN_Sean-Thesis_nosignature.pdf - Submitted Version (1MB) | Preview

Ryan, Sean Joseph (2022) ‘Like a monstrous ball of dough’: Challenging fat boy tropes in young adult novels. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis, “‘Like a monstrous ball of dough’: Challenging fat boy tropes in young adult novels,” which consists of a young adult novel, The Determination of Taffy Futt, and accompanying exegesis, aims to examine and challenge the common tropes of fat boys in young adult (YA) novels. This work is significant as there remain large gaps in research into young, fat male bodies in both Fat Studies and young adult literature. This thesis argues that there are cultural structures of power that enforce anti-fat sentiment in our society. The young adult novel reflects this by frequently depicting tropes of the fat boy as weak, stupid, a bully, a victim, or a glutton. This thesis aims to critique these tropes and proposes an alternative by means of the characterisation and narrative trajectory of the creative project. Drawing upon Michel Foucault’s theories of Biopower, the panopticon, and the disciplined body, I examine how dominant obesity discourse and anti-fat sentiment impact young adult literature. Moreover, by utilising close reading of four young adult novels, beginning in the 20th century, the period in which fat bodies began to be represented negatively in literature, I can determine the language writers use to depict fat boys and offer examples of how these tropes can be challenged. This thesis is divided 70/30 between the young adult novel 70% and the exegesis 30%. It is intended that chapters 1 and 2 of the exegesis are read before the creative work and chapter 3 is read after.

Additional Information

Includes young adult novel: The Determination of Taffy Futt

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/45683
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3602 Creative and professional writing
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4705 Literary studies
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords young adult novels, YA novels, exegesis, creative work, creative writing, young adult literature, Michel Foucault, biopower, panopticism, power, stereotypes
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login