Bereaved people need to know they are not alone, and young adult novels can help, says Jeremy Johnston.
The master’s student in English literature took top honours in Wednesday’s final round of the UWindsor Three Minute Thesis competition, and will now go on to represent the school in the provincial final at Wilfrid Laurier University on April 14.
Judges selected his presentation, entitled “Wait, you feel that, too?” as having best met the challenge of presenting graduate-level research in just three minutes. It analyzed the effects on readers of young adult novels that deal with death and mourning.
“By observing fictional characters react to and discuss topics like death and mourning, young adult literature provides a social space for teen readers to reflect on those ideas as well,” Johnston says.
Listen to his entire presentation as part of a synopsis on CBC Radio.
“The hardest part of whittling down my research was trying to strike the right balance between necessary information and creating a useful analogy for the audience,” Johnston says. “It took many hours of editing and revising, but eventually I found some pieces of information worked well in a condensed way, while others did not.”
His victory netted him a $1,000 prize; second-place finisher Krithika Muthukumaran received $500; and Zainab Bazzi won $250 for the people’s choice award. Both the latter two are doctoral students of biochemistry.
“It was such a competitive group, and everybody did a tremendous job delivering their material,” says Johnston. “I feel very fortunate to have been chosen as the winner, but I'm also really proud of everyone’s effort.”