Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Phyllis Thompson

Committee Members

Rebecca Adkins Fletcher, Scott Honeycutt


Based on recent research concluding that fiction can increase empathy, this project examines how multicultural young adult literature may encourage empathy in Appalachian adolescents. Empathy encourages prosocial behaviors, but evidence suggests that young adults’ ability to empathize has declined in recent decades. In addition, Appalachia in particular is still a relatively homogenous region as it is majority white, protestant Christian, and heteronormative. Because of this, young adults in Appalachia may encounter few diverse perspectives in real life; multicultural young adult literature can provide diverse perspectives with which teenagers can empathize in a region where they might not have similar opportunities in reality. This thesis demonstrates how three multicultural young adult novels (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007), Accidents of Nature (2006), and The Porcupine of Truth (2015)) can be used in a literature unit that encourages students to show emotional understanding despite personal differences.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.