In genre studies, a coming-of-age story is a genre of literature and film that focuses on the growth of a protagonist from youth to adulthood ("coming of age"). Coming-of-age stories tend to emphasize dialogue or internal monologue over action, and are often set in the past. The subjects of coming-of-age stories are typically teenagers. The Bildungsroman is a specific subgenre of coming-of-age story.
- The Telemachy in Homer's Odyssey (8th century BC)
- Hayy ibn Yaqdhan, by Ibn Tufail (12th century)
- The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, by Henry Fielding (1749)
- The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne (1759)
- Candide, by Voltaire (1759)
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
- The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger (1951)
- The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath (1964)
- A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
In film, coming of age is a genre of teen films. Coming-of-age films focus on the psychological and moral growth or transition of a protagonist from youth to adulthood. Personal growth and change is an important characteristic of this genre, which relies on dialogue and emotional responses, rather than action. The main character is typically male, around mid-teen and the story is often told in the form of a flashback. Less common to novels, themes of developing sexual identity and political opinions are often featured in coming-of-age films; so, too, is philosophical development. These sexual themes are often presented in a comic or humorous manner.
Films in this subgenre include American Graffiti (1973), The Last American Virgin (1982), Mischief (1985), The Breakfast Club (1985), Mermaids (1990), Stand by Me (1986), Empire of the Sun (1987), Dazed and Confused (1993), Almost Famous (2000), Y Tu Mamá También (2001), The Motorcycle Diaries (2003), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), The Kings of Summer (2013) and Boyhood (2014), the last of which was filmed with the same cast over a period of twelve years. Films featuring protagonists in particular age groups, such as pre-teens, are The Sandlot (1993) and My Girl (1991), or high school graduates and college students, in films such as American Pie (1999), Can't Hardly Wait (1998), Superbad (2007), An Education (2009), and With Honors (1994), Boyhood (2014).
- Benyahia, Sarah Casey; Gaffney, Freddie; White, John (2006). As Film Studies: The Essential Introduction. Essentials Series. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-415-39311-6. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
- Joy Palmer, Liora Bresler, David Edward Cooper (2001). Fifty major thinkers on education: from Confucius to Dewey. Routledge. p. 34. ISBN 0-415-23126-4.
- McWilliams, Ellen (2009). Margaret Atwood and the Female Bildungsroman. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7546-6027-9.
The two early English Bildungsromane already mentioned, Tom Jones and The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, are examples of coming-of-age narratives that predate the generic expectations of the German tradition.
- Knausgård, Karl. "On Reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
- Fox, Levi (2002). "The Historical Coming of Age Genre". Were Those the Days? Historical Coming of Age Films in American Culture. American Studies, University of Virginia. Retrieved 5 May 2011.