Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Rhonda Brock-Servais, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jennifer M. Miskec, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Christopher W. McGee, Ph.D.


This thesis defines tragedy and introduces the young adult addiction novel as a form of modern tragedy. The tragedy genre has altered drastically throughout the ages. The new brands of tragedy reflects the vastly different society in which modern readers live, whereas, original tragedies focused on royalty or political leaders and were often written in verse until the eighteenth. This thesis examines Ellen Hopkins’ Crank (2004) and Melvin Burgess’ Smack (1996). The examination found that Crank is written in free verse, not as a tribute to the great poets of old, but as a way to add emphasis to words, while still being concise enough for sometimes jaded modern readers. Smack has constantly changing viewpoints to keep even the most reluctant reader turning pages. Burgess and Hopkins both educate by presenting a story and letting teens read it and make up their own minds about drug use to capture young adult audiences. The thesis concludes that the modern young adult addiction tragedy should not only be accepted as a viable addition to the literary cannon, it has the power to change lives.



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