The Reading YA Fiction Symposium will take place on 24 May 2018 at Westmere House, University of Birmingham.

YA Fiction has boomed in popularity in the twenty first century, from blockbuster franchises Twilight and The Hunger Games to critically acclaimed works by authors including Phillip Pullman, Patrick Ness and Malorie Blackman. Once valued primarily as a pedagogic tool, YA is beginning to emerge from the shadow of Children’s Literature to become an exciting field of study in its own right.  Critics including Roberta Trites, Robyn McCallum, Allison Waller and Crag Hill have produced complex theoretical readings of YA, establishing the groundwork for specialist scholarship in this area.

Reading YA seeks to provide a space for discussion of YA as a significant field of cultural production. There is a growing number of YA specialists in the UK, and we hope this event will provide a space for discussion and dissemination of this research.

The confirmed keynote is Maria Nikolajeva, a Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge, renowned internationally for her work on children’s and YA literature.

Suggested topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Literary theory and YA
  • Historical accounts of YA from the 1940s to the contemporary
  • YA and convergence culture: fandom and readership studies
  • Genre theory and YA
  • Analysis of YA sub-genres (romance, dystopia, horror, comedy, fantasy)
  • YA and narratives/theories of adolescence
  • #WeNeedDiverseBooks: representation of race and ethnicity in YA
  • #OwnVoices in YA: how YA functions as a space for the conveyance of marginalised perspectives
  • YA and LBGTQ+

The event will form part of a two-day event on YA at the University of Birmingham. The second, ‘Writing YA’ will take place on Friday 25 May and will involve YA authors discussing their experiences of writing, publishing, and reading in a series of workshops and author events. Delegates are encouraged to attend both in order to participate in an exciting discussion of YA between readers and writers. Information about how to register for these events will be available soon.

We welcome abstracts of no more than 200-words for 20-minute papers from across subject areas including film, television, literature, education and psychology. We are also open to ideas for panels on the above or related topics. The symposium invites papers from academics, early career researchers, postgraduate research students and undergraduates alike.

Please send all abstracts to Sean Donnelly at

The deadline for submission of abstracts is Friday 9 March 2018.