All posts for the month March, 2017

Today in class will be our poster session for your movie posters. Remember, you have three major goals today (plus the fourth goal of improving your visual design skills with your poster)

  1. Practice a poster session presentation in a low stakes environment
  2. Learn more about the books you might work on for your propaganda project
  3. Fun!


The poster session will be run in three parts – please see TSquare for your group assignment

Session 1 – X:05-X:20

  • Group A will present posters
  • Group B will record ONE presentation (pitch and questions)
  • Group C will ask at least 3 questions

Session 2 – X:20-X:35

  • Group B will present posters
  • Group C will record ONE presentation (pitch and questions)
  • Group A will ask at least 3 questions

Session 3 X:35-X:55

  • Group C will present posters
  • Group A will record ONE presentation (pitch and questions)
  • Group B will ask at least 3 questions


HOMEWORK for Monday, April 3

  • Due tonight: video of presentation to Tsquare – submit as a YouTube link like you did your CFW Video
  • Team charter due in hard copy in class on April 3 – all team members should sign it
    • Begin working on your propaganda project in earnest now – due April 17 in class (presentation) and via Mahara (propaganda campaign)
  • Read and livetweet first part of Ship Breaker (Chapters 1-10)
  • Read CCUL Chapter 11

For class on Monday, March 27, please complete the following homework assignments:

  1. Read WOVENText 517-533 on Collages/Visual Arguments
  2. Watch the video on “Teamwork Fundamentals.” Remember, you will need to sign in to with your GATech credentials to watch the video for free.


Looking ahead to Wednesday, March 29, the homework will be:

  1. Bring a digital draft of your poster and a draft of your movie blurb to class for peer review/poster session rehearsal
  2. Watch this video on “Giving an Effective Poster Presentation” on YouTube


Your movie posters and blurbs will now be due on Friday, March 31 and we will hold our mock poster session in class. An updated version of the syllabus for the remaining 4.5 weeks of class is coming soon.

My source is an article called ‘Totalitarianism and Dystopian Literature: A Review’, written by Josh Zuckerman ’18 for a journal called ‘The Princeton Tory’. It talks about how dystopias are made by so much more than just a dictatorship and about five other frequently occurring themes in dystopias that are used to keep even the simplest of civil liberties from citizens. It also addresses the fact that the governments in all dystopias need not be ‘regarded as malign entities hell-bent on the destruction of freedom and the infliction of suffering’ by the people under them. Nevertheless, these are totalitarian as they ‘prevent the exercise of free will and political dissidence’.

The five themes that the article focuses on are – Government Monopoly of Information, The Rewriting of History, Equality as the Primary Motivating Agent of Governmental Actions, The Loss of Individual Identity and The Erosion of Identity. It goes into different examples from popular YA Dystopias to show how these themes are effective in creating a ‘perpetual state of confusion’ for the people in the dystopia. It ends by addressing the concern that minimized versions of these themes have always existed and continue to do so in our own society. Reading exaggerated versions of our own truths brings home the limits that we as humankind should always be aware and mindful of.

This was the article that first brought to my mind the thought of information as an effective weapon. It is a good read to understand the importance of various strategies that dystopian governments use while also realizing how big a role deception plays in any dystopian fiction. I also realized the importance of studying and knowing history, absent of which, the author emphasizes, ‘society would experience a profound moral and cultural decadence.’ As a whole, the article addresses various moral dilemmas that our society faces today but how taking the direction that we are inclining towards now could have disastrous results.

Works Cited

Zuckerman, Josh. “Totalitarianism and Dystopian Literature: A Review.” The Princeton Tory, 23 Nov. 2014, Accessed 1 Mar. 2017.


A large number of people have said they will be absent on Friday due to the start of Spring Break. Therefore, I’m going to post Friday’s class content online so that everyone can get the same information before they leave town.

It is important that you go through this “class” before you finalize your research papers, as all of this information will be directly relevant to putting the finishing touches on your paper. DO NOT wait until the last minute to submit your papers, as “the wi-fi on my cruise ship was malfunctioning” is not a valid excuse for not submitting your paper.

On Friday, in lieu of holding an in-person class, I will hold extended office hours from 8:30am-12:00pm. You may email me or stop by the office during this time and I will be happy to answer any of your questions or talk through any last minute concerns you have about the research paper.

Friday’s “class” will cover the following:

  1. Complete and post a reflection on your presentation
  2. Watch a lecture on improving Introductions and Conclusions
  3. Read through a few tips about the intricacies of MLA in-text citations
  4. Look at a few resources I have provided to help you proofread and double-check your formatting for your research paper

Continue below to find all the information you need to complete Friday’s class – you may work through this class at any point this week, so long as you complete it, then turn in your research paper prior to Friday, March 17 at 11:55pm.

Continue Reading

This course is based around young adult dystopian literature, and how over the years, its origin as a utopia has changed and evolved into bestselling books, comics, and even movies. For me, my primary focus of research is the role that social taboos, which can include (but are not limited to) sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, abuse, and mental health, in young adult literature; specifically, in young adult dystopian novels. Narrowing down even further, I decided to pay close attention to the role that the social taboo of mental health (specifically, teenage suicide and depression) plays in young adult dystopian literature; or rather, the lack of role it plays thereof. In order to do this, however, its important to understand why dystopian literature is so appealing to young adults in the first place.

The source I’m highlighting is an analysis published Virginia Tech in the Alan Review (see Works Cited). Essentially, the researchers determined what themes could be appealing to young adult dystopian readers, and divided them into several categories including (but not limited to) platonic relationships, media manipulation, limited freedom, pressure to conform, etc. Then, they devised a list of dystopian novels that were published in 2000 or later and were considerably popular and best-selling, and determined the common themes that each of these novels had with each other. After having a list of themes with supporting novelistic evidence, each theme was analyzed even further with recurring trends in plots and twists of the respective novels.

The review established the role that adolescent development plays, whether it is isolation, the brink of adulthood, or relationships (platonic and romantic). Although the biggest takeaway from the review was to advocate for the necessity of young adult dystopian literature in the classroom, it makes a sound argument with a good indication of what themes, in fact, classify a piece of literature as not only dystopian, but successfully dystopian. For me, the purpose of this article was to support the fact that popular dystopian novels do not discuss mental health as a recurring theme, despite the role it plays in teenage lives on a regular basis. However, for those looking at the rise in the appeal of dystopian literature, or the role that technology or romance play as recurring themes in dystopian literature, this can prove to be an equally valuable and useful source.

Works Cited

Scholes, Justin, and Jon Ostenson. “Understanding the Appeal of Dystopian Young Adult Fiction.” Scholarly Communication Department, Research & Informatics, Virginia Tech Libraries, Scholarly Communication, Virginia Tech University Libraries, Accessed 24 Feb. 2017.

One article that I found particularly helpful for my research, which will also be beneficial for others in the class, focuses on providing information about the risks of cosmetic surgeries to correct unattractive facial features. Diana Zuckerman wishes to examine risks associated with these types of surgeries to inform teens and young women in order to assist them in making their decisions, realizing that it’s difficult to determine when surguries cross the line. She begins the article by describing plastic surgery in developing teens, moves on to the risks involved with it, and then addresses possible solutions, all the while proving her point that this topic of research needs more time and energy to ensure that we aren’t ruining young girls’ lives.

65,000. To fix noses, lift breasts, perform tummy tucks, and go through with liposuction, 65,000 girls between the ages of 13 and 19 sought and received cosmetic surgery, many of whom did not make informed decisions (Zuckerman). Zuckerman points out that girls usually gain weight between 18 and 21 years old, so most girls who get surgery may need to get it again as their bodies change. Not only does she worry that teens don’t fully comprehend the risks involved, but the FDA has concerns about silicone gel breast implants and how young women don’t know all the information. As Zuckerman explains the risks involved with plastic surgery, she points out that “most women who get breast implants have at least one serious complication within the first three years” (Zuckerman). Many things can go wrong, and if something does, the patient will most likely have to go through surgery again. Body dysmorphic disorder is also prevalent among women seeking surgery, which holds a psychological risk. Zuckerman wants young women to realize what they’re actually about to go through and to understand the full scope.

Not only are the physical and psychological risks associated with breast implants, but monetary risks exist as well. Cosmetic surgery is very expensive, and if a complication exists, a lot of women may not be able to pay for it. Zuckerman also explains the risks associated with liposuction. Most people don’t realize that there can be “infection, damage to skin, nerves or vital organs…or blood clots” that can lead to death (Zuckerman). Teens will most likely not pay attention to the risks associated with these surgeries, which is a problem since the media and “public has an inflated sense of the benefits” (Zuckerman). Overall, research is lacking in results, but the media is influencing young women on this issue, which leads to uninformed decisions.

In order to prevent these decisions from occurring, Zuckerman proposes a couple options. Effective screening is a great way to determine if a patient is ready and mature enough to transform her body. Also, research is very important in this area since studies found that body images of teens improves regardless of going through plastic surgery or not (Zuckerman). Zuckerman feels that there is not enough long-term research for teens and their parents to make informed decision about cosmetic surgery.

This article is very important to my research because it showcases that we could be encouraging uninformed decisions about plastic surgery and that benefits of cosmetic surgery are inflated, just like in the novel Uglies. Many of the presentations focused on what dystopias can teach us about our society, and this article is a great example of what Uglies teaches us about our fears and how this benefits our society. We as a society are not focusing on the major problems associated with cosmetic surgery, and Zuckerman and I both realize that this needs to be changed.

Works Cited

Zuckerman, Diana. “Teens and Cosmetic Surgery.” Our Bodies Ourselves, 6 May 2016, Accessed 22 Feb.        2017.

This article argues that America today is comparable to the dystopian classic, 1984 by George Orwell. Seeing as 1984 was a futuristic dystopia at the time, it showcased several “new” technologies that are looking awfully familiar today.

In 1984, there were large telescreens capable of showing images and propaganda to the people, which didn’t exist when Orwell wrote it. This is mirrored by the screens Americans today see everywhere they go, from telephones to cell phones, computer screens and the large signs displaying colorful images everywhere we go.

Today, it cannot be argued against that people are under almost constant surveillance. Given, this data collected from our phones, computers, and digital lives goes largely unused, to our knowledge, but what happens to the information collected to us can change as quickly as the Administration. They also argue for the point by bringing up the Edward Snowden case in which Snowden illegally leaked thousands of classified documents to tell the people  how much information is actually recorded about their lives by their own government and what was being done with that information. .

The “Endless War” , that is, the war of the central government of 1984, Oceania, against either Eurasia or Eastasia. These two countries were named interchangeably as the enemy, sometimes, one of them being an ally. This was used as a distraction tactic to enslave the people.  This too, is similar to the going ons of America today. Since 9/11 the average American has learned to hate and fear their own enemy, the dreaded “ill defined enemy.”

The speculation is that this war is meant to distract and enrage citizens so they are too caught up and fired up to notice the problems going on at home.

I recommend this article for some of our researchers who are talking about how technology in dystopias mirrors the reality of today.



Works Cited:

Beale, Lewis. “We’re Living ‘1984’ Today.” CNN, 3 Aug. 2013, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

One of the most important sources in my research is a book by Jacques Ellul called Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes. This book identifies many various uses of propaganda throughout history and successfully attempts to categorize something that until this book’s publication had no precedent for its organization. This is a great source for anyone looking into government control of the public’s opinions, propaganda in general, acts of rebellion, or topics about fake news. However, attempting to tell you about the entire book in around 500 words would be an impossible feat, so I will instead focus on the first chapter which is all about the characteristics of propaganda.

The first chapter of this book is split into three parts: external characteristics, internal characteristics, and categorization of propaganda. The first part, or the external focus of propaganda, tells all about how propaganda is mainly concerned with shaping an individual psychologically by essentially creating beliefs on a certain topic through imperceptible techniques such as subliminal messaging and continuous repetition. It goes on to talk about how the constant presence of messages about a certain opinion or concepts eventually gain presence in the minds of individuals which causes propaganda to be such an effective way of getting others to agree with your point of view on an idea even though they might not have agreed with you at first.

The second part of this chapter focuses on internal characteristics of propaganda. This section of the book is written more for the creators of propaganda as it demonstrates what they need to know in order to launch a successful propaganda campaign. It talks all about understanding the environment that surrounds the “propagandist” and how those who create propaganda shouldn’t attempt to create something out of nothing, but use the ideals and beliefs already existing in a certain part of society to their advantage by linking the public’s views and beliefs to their own.

The third part of this chapter is the most interesting part to me as it expands on the categories of propaganda and the individual goals of each type of it. Ellul talks about his eight categories for propaganda including political propaganda where the focus is on achieving political gains (kind of self-explanatory), sociological propaganda where the goal is to as Ellul puts it, “the presentation of an ideology by means of sociological context.” He also discusses agitation propaganda which is essentially propaganda of hatred (example would be Nazi propaganda of the Jews in WW2) and integration propaganda which is propaganda meant to unify or stabilize a country or group of people. Moreover, he discusses vertical propaganda and horizontal propaganda. Vertical propaganda is essentially the elevating of a leader above the masses (as shown by propaganda in North Korea or China) where horizontal propaganda is used to unify people as equals in a community where everyone is treated with fairness and equality. Lastly, he talks about irrational and rational propaganda. Ellul specifies how irrational propaganda is essentially the use of myths or symbols to appeal to emotions whereas rational propaganda uses facts and statistics to appeal to emotions.

This source has greatly helped be develop my own ideas behind propaganda and helped me further my research greatly by providing a great starting point. It has allowed me to see case studies in many novels that I have read in class and use a proven classification of propaganda techniques to better explain the reasoning behind each example of propaganda that I find in my research.