Teaching Girls on Fire

Essays on Dystopian Young Adult Literature in the Classroom

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About the Book

The rise of YA dystopian literature has seen an explosion of female protagonists who are stirring young people’s interest in social and political topics, awakening their civic imagination, and inspiring them to work for change. These “Girls on Fire” are intersectional and multidimensional characters. They are leaders in their communities and they challenge injustice and limited representations. The Girl on Fire fights for herself and for those who are oppressed, voiceless, or powerless. She is the hope for our shared future.
This collection of new essays brings together teachers and students from a variety of educational contexts to explore how to harness the cultural power of the Girl on Fire as we educate real-world students. Each essay provides both theoretical foundations as well as practical, hands-on teaching tools that can be used with diverse groups of students, in formal as well as informal educational settings. This volume challenges readers to realize the symbolic power the Girl on Fire has to raise consciousness and inform action and to keep that fire burning.

About the Author(s)

Sarah Hentges is an associate professor of American studies at the University of Maine at Augusta. She also teaches women’s and gender studies and maintains a blog and website at www.cultureandmovement.com.

Sean P. Connors is an associate professor of English education at the University of Arkansas. He is the host of The Storyteller’s Thread, a monthly podcast devoted to children’s and young adult literature.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Sarah Hentges and Sean P. Connors
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 226
Bibliographic Info: bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7929-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3890-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction: Girls on Fire: “Off the Page and Into the World” (Sean P. Connors and Sarah Hentges) 3

Part One: Exploring New Ground for Girls on Fire
Athletic Girls on Fire: Representations of the Female Athlete in The Hunger Games and ­Sports-Related Media
(Wendy J. Glenn) 19
From Girls on Fire to Historical Bad Girls: A Framework for Critiquing Postfeminism and Neoliberalism in YA Literature
(Sean P. Connors and Lissette Lopez Szwydky) 35
Teaching Feminisms: Triumphs and Failures in The Hunger Games Trilogy
(Roberta Seelinger Trites) 51

Part Two: #MeToo: Sexual Realities, Activism and Empowerment
Young Adult Literature and Girls on Fire as Fuel for Teaching the #MeToo Movement
(Arianna Banack, Caitlin Metheny and Amanda Rigell) 71
Say Something, Do Something: Creating Allies and Agents Through The Nowhere Girls on Fire
(Katie Sluiter and Gretchen Rumohr) 92
Troubling Girls on Fire in Young Adult Literature: A Critical Examination of Systemic Violence and Sexual Trauma in Asking for It
(Kate Lechtenberg, Jenna Spiering, Amanda Haertling Thein and Nicole Ann Amato) 105

Part Three: The Girl on Fire in the University Classroom
On Teaching Girls Who Want to Burn: The Problems and Possibilities of Feminist Education
(Tessa Pyles) 123
It Starts with a Book: An Exemplary “Girl on Fire” and Her Undergraduate Thesis on Racial Social Justice
(Katie Rybakova and Sydni Collier) 141
Teaching Octavia Butler’s Diverse Body of Speculative Fiction: Genre, Race and the Radical Imaginary
(Bryan Yazell) 154
Teaching/Learning YA Dystopia’s Girls on Fire in Denmark’s Educational System and International Community
(Sarah Hentges, Elaine Brum, Petra Ilic and Romaine Berry) 171

Conclusion:
“[Girls on Fire]: Tear This Wall Down!”
International and Imaginative Contexts for Teaching Girls on Fire
(Sarah Hentges) 191

About the Contributors 207
Index 211

Book Reviews & Awards

Reviews about Girls on Fire:

  • Girls on Fire really shines in Part I, where Hentges combines American studies, women’s and gender studies, and more traditional literary criticism to create an interdisciplinary framework that allows for a more nuanced interpretation of the many different themes and qualities of YA dystopian literature. …this book is a valuable addition to the literary criticism canon…currently one of the only texts that attempts to look at YA dystopian literature through an interdisciplinary lens”—Resources for Women’s and Gender Studies
  • “Loaded with powerful information and presented without pretension, the themes discussed in Girls on Fire are extremely timely and vitally important for all members of society, but especially to the young women that will rule the new world dawning on the horizon”—Spoiler Free Movie Sleuth