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Year of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

MFA: Children's Literature

Directing Professor

Amanda Cockrell


Codex Americana is a contemporary Young Adult urban fantasy, in which 16-year-old trans man Ren McKenzie, having committed to spending the summer before his high school senior year socially transitioning, goes to work as an intern for the Library of Congress’ Special Acquisitions Department, which turns out to be responsible for acquiring, preserving, and protecting a vast collection of unique and magical artifacts. Partnered with nonbinary wisecracking Kim Rodriguez and Black overachiever Cherish Hathaway, Ren’s first day as an intern erupts into chaos when, on a routine field trip, the trio and their mentor are ambushed by a team from the sinister Grimwood Institute, during which they stumble across the Codex Americana, a powerful magical book connected to the very foundation of the nation. Now they must protect the Codex and thwart the Grimwood Institute’s evil plans for it.

The accompanying critical essay, “Close Encounters of the Word Kind: How Codex Americana Fuses School Story and Young Adult Adventure,” places this book into context as a YA adventure, while examining its similarities and departures from the typical “school story.” It also explores the story’s narrative DNA, its personal connection and significance to the author, and whether or not the inclusion of elements more traditionally associated with Middle Grade books affects its classification as a Young Adult book.

Contact Information

Purpose Statement

The purpose of preserving this thesis document is to provide a definitive record of student progress upon completion of the degree. This text will not reflect any revisions to the manuscript made after degree completion. For the most current version of the work, please contact its author.