Emma Salt-Raper

Emma Salt-Raper


I am a PhD candidate in the School of English, working on the representation of mental health, illness and recovery in twenty-first century young adult fiction. I first became interested in how the genre both animates and reacts to the current rising mental health crisis in young people when I was working as a secondary school teacher. I left secondary school teaching and began my PhD in October 2019 to explore this recent proliferation of adolescent novels about mental illness and recovery. 

My doctoral research is fully funded by the Joseph Wright scholarship.

Prior to starting my PhD, I completed my MA and BA in English at the University of Hull. In 2014 I also gained a Post-graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Huddersfield.

Research interests

  • Twenty-first century young adult fiction
  • medical humanities and contemporary fiction
  • contemporary mental health life writing
  • representations of disability and mental health for a young adult reader 

The methodology of this project consists of an interdisciplinary combination of literary and cultural criticism, medical humanities criticism and sociological investigations of health cultures. It will use overarching principles of medical humanities scholarship to aid an understanding of young adult fiction, which I argue is a genre often excluded from literary criticism. A principal purpose of the thesis is to create and occupy a space between sociology, theories of medicine and textual criticism in order to re-frame the young adult genre to investigate the sophistication of such fictionalised health and illness narratives.

This thesis is vital in its critical examination of an under-researched but emerging genre. This is a significant time for adolescent fiction as although the genre is establishing a presence in the realms of canonical literature it is simultaneously a developing area of critical inquiry within academic literary study. Young adult fiction has previously struggled to gain legitimacy within the realm of literary criticism and this thesis is vital in supporting the genre to gain recognition as a valuable and valid area of study which is largely being neglected by critical research. My research is particularly interested in the fictionalized ways in whcih abstract power structures such as sexuality, gender and race intersect with illness narratives and recovery arcs. Authors whose work I analyse currently include: Holly Bourne, Adam Silvera and Patricia McCormick.


  • MA: English, University of Hull (Distinction)
  • PGCE: University of Huddersfield
  • BA: English, University of Hull (First-class Honours)

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Medical Humanities