Skip to Main Content

AP Literature: Lit Circles: What is a bildungsroman?

What is a bildungsroman?


The German term for an ‘education‐novel’ (education being understood in a broad sense that includes self‐formation or personal development); thus a significant sub‐genre of novel which relates the experiences of a youthful protagonist in meeting the challenges of adolescence and early adulthood. Such works, sometimes referred to in English as ‘coming‐of‐age’ novels, typically develop themes of innocence, self‐knowledge, sexual awakening, and vocation.

"Bildungsroman." The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Ed. Birch, Dinah. : Oxford University Press, 2009. Oxford Reference. 2009.