The key to understanding and relating to young adult literature may lie in something unexpected: theater games. Performing Arts Assistant Professor Christina Marín used unconventional methods in a presentation called “The Morbid Allure of Young Adult Literature: Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, Wizards, and the Girl Who Was on Fire” on September 28 in the Piano Row Multipurpose Room.
The lecture focused on three popular young adult book series, all of which have been or will be made into movie series: Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games. Each has a large fan base that extends far beyond young adults.
Marín’s lecture kicked off a series called the First Lecture Series, a collaboration between the Office of Housing and Residence Life and Emerson faculty. According to Seth Grue, associate director of residence life, the First Lecture Series is meant to break the metaphorical barrier between students and faculty. Faculty members will lecture on topics they are passionate about and want to share with students in a setting outside of the classroom.
During her presentation, Marín played theater education games with audience members. Each game was designed to invoke in participants a feeling, such as fear or excitement. In one of the games, Marín asked 12 participants to silently choose another participant as their enemy and try to stay as far away from the enemy as possible. Then, she instructed the participants to choose a different person as their ally. Participants were supposed to not only distance themselves from their enemy, but also try to keep their ally in between themselves and the enemy.
After a great deal of chaos as people tried to keep their allies close and their enemies far away, Marín stopped the game for a short discussion. The participants expressed what it felt like to choose an enemy and ally and what other feelings came up as they realized that they were some people’s enemies and allies. Marín related the situations the game created and the feelings it sparked to situations in the young adult books.
After several games, Marín wrapped up her presentation by talking about the importance of young adult books in opening children’s minds to things going on in the world, not just in their own homes or heads. “We need young children to engage in a world outside of their own,” she said.
Audience members praised Marín’s unorthodox lecture. Emily McClure ’15, a Writing, Literature, and Publishing major, thanked Marín for uncovering underlying themes in the books without being too academic or critical. Tau Zaman ’14, a Political Communication student, enjoyed the way Marín approached the morbid nature of the series. “She had fun with our fascination with morbidity,” he said.