A plea for change in young adult literature was presented by a remote speaker in Texas.
Dr. Chea Parton, Professor of Young Adult Literature, has made it her mission to teach others about rural settings in literature and how it can help people understand the social construction of age, adolescence and venue at a virtual conference for Morehead State students.
“Place is one of the most important things we should be thinking about because it relates to history and politics, as well as people and culture,” said Parton, a professor at the University. from North Texas to Austin.
His passion grew out of the challenges it took to find rural settings in young adult literature. She now uses this passion to help teachers, especially those in rural areas, find books that represent authentic depictions of her life.
Parton said coming from a rural background helped her focus on young adult literature when pursuing her master’s degree.
“Thinking about my own experience as a rural student and realizing that I’ve never read books about people like me and if I did, it was historical fiction. People like me existed only in history.
Its objective is now to promote rural areas and to make its culture appreciated so that the inhabitants of these territories can finally feel understood.
She said moving to Texas helped her understand how rurality influenced her interactions with others.
“I remember exactly where I was sitting when I realized people were going to think I wasn’t worth listening to because of the way I spoke, and then I had to unlearn the way I was talking,” said Parton, a Gaston, Indiana. native.
Parton said rural experiences are defined by more than our perceptions.
“I don’t think it’s possible to have a single definition of what the rural world looks like. I think people have definitions of what their rurality is,” Parton said. “But if we understand that other people have different definitions because of their experiences, we should let it go.”
Parton noted that most people think of Appalachia or the Midwest when they hear the term rural, even though only 40% of Appalachia is actually rural.
She said such definitions alter the meaning of identity in different regions.
“Identity does not develop in a vacuum, it develops somewhere and that somewhere helps to influence how individual identities are developed, and then the individual identities that exist in that somewhere help to construct the identity of this location”
Parton said progress has been made regarding perceptions of Indigenous peoples in urban settings, but the livelihoods of those in rural America are still very incomplete. She said these misconceptions persist due to popular culture and media.
“There are all kinds of different rural areas that have been shaped in really specific and particular ways that people don’t think about, because they only think about it in the most visible context of popular culture”
To learn more about Dr. Parton’s research and mission, you can visit his website at Literatureenplace.com.