Adam Kealley (BEd, MA) is a PhD candidate from Perth, Western Australia, studying under a collaborative arrangement between Curtin University and the University of Aberdeen. He has been published in Children’s Literature in Education and Interpretations.

Speaking from the shadows

The spectrality of adolescence in the novels of Vikki Wakefield

This paper considers the implications of the spectre as metaphor for the postmodern adolescent, in preparation for my own creative writing project. Pamela Thurschwell has previously argued the case for the spectral nature of adolescence. Occupying an uncanny temporal condition, adolescents are haunted by their childhood past and a future adult self they fear may never materialise. I suggest that this liminality can arise from the effect of a disjunct between their lived realities and the discourses which seek to define adolescent subjectivity; namely those of the nuclear family and the growth imperative inherent to the Bildungsroman. These ideological structures have their origins in the Enlightenment, yet despite their deterioration in the postmodern world, remain fundamental to the literature for young adults. I draw on the work of Avery Gordon and Esther Peeren to suggest that the spectral metaphor can be employed to interrogate these outdated discourses, calling attention to their spectralising effects on the adolescent subject. This is evident in the young adult novels of Vikki Wakefield, including Friday Brown (2012), All I Ever Wanted (2011) and Inbetween Days (2015), in which her protagonists give voice to the spectral adolescent.