University of Oulu

International Research in Children's Literature, Volume 16 Issue 1, Page 16-29, ISSN 1755-6198 Available Online Jan 2023

Directions of desire : reading the adolescent body

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Author: Kokkola, Lydia1
Organizations: 1Oulu University, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Edinburgh University Press, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-01-24


In Queer Phenomenology, Sara Ahmed discusses the spatial dimensions of orientation, asking not only ‘What does it mean to be oriented?’ but also ‘What does it mean for sexuality to be lived as oriented? What difference does it make what or who we are oriented toward in the very direction of our desire?’ (1). This article uses Ahmed’s idea of sexual orientation as a form of way-finding to consider how masturbation might be considered a form of orientation that is particularly relevant for teenagers learning to understand their pubescent bodies and their desires. The concept is developed through an analysis of how Emilia – the teenage protagonist of the Finnish novel Huhtikuun Puutarha [April garden] by Leena Leskinen – uses her desire to find her way. The novel contains several erotic descriptions of sexual acts, designed to titillate the readers of the novel. Drawing on research within the field of embodied cognition, the article concludes with an examination of how the written word stimulates the body. The aim is to see how onanistic reading is promoted in Finnish YA fiction and to suggest that erotica for teens has many benefits.

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Series: International research in children's literature
ISSN: 1755-6198
ISSN-E: 1755-6198
ISSN-L: 1755-6198
Volume: 16
Issue: 1
Pages: 16 - 29
DOI: 10.3366/ircl.2023.0485
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 6122 Literature studies
Copyright information: © International Research Society for Children’s Literature. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Edinburgh University Press in International Research in Children's Literature. The Version of Record is available online at: