New Adult Fiction

Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Location
Cambridge
Publication year
2021
Comment

Here's the summary:

The term 'new adult' was coined in 2009 by St Martin's Press, when they sought submissions for a contest for 'fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult – a sort of 'older YA' or 'new adult'.' However, the literary category that later emerged bore less resemblance to young adult fiction and instead became a sub-genre of another major popular genre: romance. This Element uses new adult fiction as a case study to explore how genres develop in the twenty-first-century literary marketplace. It traces new adult's evolution through three key stages in order to demonstrate the fluidity that characterises contemporary genres. It argues for greater consideration of paratextual factors in studies of genre. Using a genre worlds approach, it contends that in order to productively examine genre, we must consider industrial and social factors as well as texts.

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the form of new adult fiction that emerged was not the one that St Martin’s had initially envisioned, which was a generic melting pot whose defining features were protagonist age and intended demographic (thus operating as a genre in the same way as children’s, middle-grade and young adult fiction). Rather, the texts that emerged as major new adult blockbusters all had strikingly similar plot features, aligning this new form of fiction much more strongly with a genre defined by its narrative trajectory: romance. This clearly demonstrates the fluidity of genre, and the ways in which there can be substantial bleed between categories determined primarily by implied readership and those by plot trajectory. Even though paratextual elements such as a category’s name remain consistent, what that name denotes can change enormously in only a few years. (34)

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The second wave of new adult fiction arose in large part because readers took taxonomies into their own hands. [...] In particular, this happened via the literary social networking site Goodreads. (35)

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there is little doubt that the folksonomical social tagging practices that occur in Goodreads can engender possibilities for readers to shape and direct the evolution of genres. (37)

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the fiction of the boom period ultimately became not the arbiter of the category’s boundaries but of its centre. This form of new adult – contemporary romance, college-aged protagonists, first person – became the most easily identifiable and categorised; however, as the genre slipped from view, the boundaries became increasingly fuzzy. (67)

 

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