Edited Collection: Cancer in Young Adult Literature

deadline for submissions: 
June 1, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Stephen Zimmerly / University of Indianapolis
contact email: 

Edited Collection: Cancer in Young Adult Literature


Deadline for Submission:

June 1, 2022


Full Name/Name of Organization:

Stephen M. Zimmerly, University of Indianapolis


Contact Email:




This edited collection investigates the use/portrayal of cancer in young adult (YA) novels. “Sick Lit,” by which it is often somewhat pejoratively referred, has been around for decades--in varying degrees of complexity or notoriety. This collection will specifically and solely consider essays focusing on YA texts where cancer plays a prominent role.

Considerations in this field undoubtedly bring to mind commercially successful texts for young adults, including John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk to Remember, or Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper–and their film adaptations. There are, of course, hundreds of other texts from the past half-century that could be brought into the conversation.

Topics could include:

  • A focus on specific cancers across various texts (ie lung cancer, leukemia, sarcoma)

  • Secondary or tertiary characters with cancer

  • A focus on the reader’s experience, specifically considering young adults

  • In-depth consideration of the science behind cancer’s physical progression and/or treatment, and its portrayal (or non-portrayal) in the text

  • Focusing on cancer as a character in and of itself

  • A contrast between cancer’s portrayal in a critically acclaimed novel versus a “sick lit” novel

  • Teenage romance; hospital romance; romance between terminally ill patients

  • The effects cancer has on the family unit; on the relationship between parents and young adults; what difference it makes if a parent or a child has cancer

  • The realities of terminal cancer in young people; priority shifts in the face of death

  • The ways cancer changes a given genre’s dynamics; cancer in a sport narrative; cancer in science fiction; cancer in historical fiction; etc.


Submission Information:

Submitted proposals should include a 500 word abstract, a partial CV (no more than one page), and a biographical statement (up to 150 words).

Please email questions and proposals to Stephen Zimmerly at zimmerlys@uindy.edu


Proposal Deadline: June 1, 2022 (Accepted proposals will be notified by July 15, 2022).


About the Publisher:

This collection is provisionally supported by Lexington Books, as part of its series in Children and Youth in Popular Culture. Lexington Books is an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield.


About the Editor:

Stephen Zimmerly is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Indianapolis, where he teaches courses in YA (including a course specifically looking at cancer in YA), middle grade fiction, American Literature, and popular culture.


Research Assistants:

Abigail Bailey is a student at the University of Indianapolis, studying English and Secondary Education as well as mild interventions. 


Alexa Kinnaman is a student at the University of Indianapolis studying Human Biology with an Honors Concentration.