All posts by Mary Johnson

Here is the youtube link:

Throughout my research, I had to narrow down my sources to sources that I found to be credible as well as unique to my other sources. Because there is so much out there on technological surveillance and surveillance in general, I did a lot of narrowing down, but eventually, I got a good set of sources for my research paper. I also noticed during our presentations that several people mentioned technologic surveillance within their presentation and in looking at my sources, I feel that the book, “Law and Society: Read ID Act” might be useful to those people who plan to discuss how the government in YA Dystopias exercises control over its citizens. One presentation that stood out to me was Victoria’s, as she mentioned in her presentation, “Citizens are perceived to be under constant surveillance”, so this source might be useful for you, Victoria!

“Law and Society: Real ID Act” was written by William Eyre, and discusses the multiple laws that have been passed by the US government and how these laws have affected citizens’ right to privacy. The main argument of the book is that the American government has been enacting a great deal of laws in regard to citizen privacy, and as a result, there has been an erosion of personal privacy. The purpose of the book is to increase awareness of how privacy rights can completely disappear and how difficult it can/will be to regain these rights once they are lost. I think that this source is very useful in my own research paper and can be a great source for other projects because it shows how possible it is for today’s society to deteriorate into a dystopian, surveyed society that is controlled by a mass government. Not only does this book provide a lot of information, it is also a great source because the author does not stray off topic and manages to exhibit ethos and logos. The book is organized into chapters based on the laws passed by the US government and within each chapter, an argument is provided by Eyre why a law is just or unjust, referring to the Bill of Rights as backup for his argument. He provides thorough details and concrete examples to back up his argument (logos) and contributes to his ethos by explaining his background in Information Technology with the US Government. Ultimately, this book was a great resource for my project and can be one for yours because it shows how society has been affected by technological surveillance and it illustrates the dystopian potential of the United States.


Works Referenced:

Eyre, William. The Real ID Act: Privacy and Government Surveillance, LFB Scholarly Pub., El Paso, 2011.

On Friday, I will be giving a presentation on the role of “Technological Surveillance in YA Dystopias” and the effect that it has on characters within the books that we’ve read (as well as my independent reading book, Matched). I will start by giving my personal definition of what a Dystopia is, just as I did in my first blog, and then I will delve into the definition of technological surveillance and I will connect the two definitions to one another. I am going to discuss how the presence of technological surveillance in societies have a largely negative effect on the characters that I’ve chosen to discuss from each book. I think that the presentation will be interesting for you all to hear because although we’ve talked a great deal about technological surveillance in Little Brother, we haven’t had the chance to really discuss its’ effect in The Hunger Games. In addition to discussing the effects that surveillance has on the psychological state of characters within these novels, I plan to compare the level of surveillance in the novels to the level of surveillance in the world today. It’s scary, but I’ve found lots of similarities.

I am also excited to present the information that I’ve discovered about technological surveillance in the United States today because there seem to be a lot of things that we aren’t aware of as US citizens and I am interested to see how people will react to what I’ve found in my sources. You should all look forward to hearing my presentation because it will not only shed light on subjects that we haven’t been able to discuss about the books we’ve read in class, but it will also shed light on how scarily similar some of these books are to today’s world. I hope that my presentation will make you think about your use of technology and reconsider how excessively one should use said technology. I’ve attached a link to one of my sources and I hope you all get a chance to read or skim through it so that you might have some food for thought before my presentation.

For my independent reading, I read Matched by Allie Condie and while reading the YA Romance Dystopia, a lot of questions came up. However, one of the most prominent questions that kept popping up in my head was “Why do these people trust the ‘Society’ so much and why do they let the ‘Society’ make all of their decisions for them?” Throughout the novel, I kept finding more and more people who simply went along with what the ‘Society’ instructed them to do, and without question. I think the reason why this came as such a shock to me is because growing up, my dad always taught me to question everything and trust my own instinct versus others’ instruction.

To go back a little bit, I’d like to explain what the ‘Society’ is and its large role in Matched. The ‘Society’ is the form of government that exists in Matched and it controls its citizens through constant monitoring and constant control over what they do. They decide who marries who, who does what, and everything else you can think of. However, the characters are deceived by the ‘Society’ and are convinced that they have some power over what they choose to do, when the reality of the situation is that it is only an illusion and the ‘Society’ truly makes all of the decisions.

This concept is so bizarre and intriguing to me because I feel that it is totally possible in today’s world. I feel like with all of the technology that exists today, it is so easy for people to be wrapped up in technology that they don’t realize if they’re being monitored or not—or if they do, they simply don’t care. Because of this, I plan to research how technology affects people and how it can numb people to the concerns of constant surveillance. Ultimately, the role of technology and surveillance in dystopian novels is what interests me the most and that is why I’ve chosen to write me research paper on this topic.


Works Cited:

Condie, Ally. Matched. Penguin Books Ltd., 2012.

While reading The Hunger Games, it’s hard not to notice how much propaganda is used by the Capitol. The Capitol uses its many methods of propaganda to keep its citizens in place and unaware of its inner-workings. One of the methods that stands out the most to me within the novel is the “history of Panem” speech given at the reaping in the very first chapter of the novel. The speech makes the Capitol seem so much more glorious and gracious than it really is.  I imagine that when the speech is given in Districts like 2 and 3, citizens applaud the capitol for its accomplishments in putting the rebellion down; however, when the speech is delivered to District 12, the people know how full of crap the Capitol is.

Nonetheless, The Capitol is effective in its use of propaganda; it convinces the districts to put forth their best “tributes” to fight in “The Games”. In the film adaptation of The Hunger Games, the producers decided to incorporate this “history of Panem” in a video instead of through a speech. While watching the movie, I found the video extremely effective in making it seem that the people in The Capitol are the good guys as opposed to the bad guys that they truly are. I also imagine that the video in the movie is very similar to how the speech is delivered in the book. While it is an unfortunate reality for those who live in the Districts of Panem, The Capitol has its citizens convinced that “The Games” are not only the best way to keep peace, but also a great mode of entertainment for them. In fact, they have been so effective with their advertising and promotions for “The Games” that it lasted 74 years before any legitimate rebellious activity occurred. Ultimately, while The Capitol was effective with “The Games” for a long time, but as President Snow said himself, “The only thing stronger than fear is hope”, and Katniss becomes that beacon of hope for Panem.

After reading several chapters of The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, I am fairly familiar with the common definition of “Dystopia”. However, I find that my definition of Dystopia might be different from that of someone else. In my lifetime, I feel that I’ve seen and heard a good bit about what dystopias are, whether its been through reading, or through seeing movies and TV Shows. I’d say that dystopia defines a futuristic place where common fears come alive and life is not good. I think dystopias are the embodiment of our current human fears, whether it may be the concepts and ideas that arise in 1984 or those that appear in The Hunger Games. I think that in this modern day and age, with all of the technology that we have and all of the bad things that keep happening around the world, people have particular fears about what the future is to bring.

The Walking Dead. N.d. TV Guide. The Walking Dead. Web. 22 Jan. 2017.

For example, my father, having grown up and recognizing all that technology has brought upon the human race, is fearful that technology and robots might take over the world someday. While I, on the other hand, have grown up with technology always by my side, have little to no fear that that might happen. I believe that different generations of the human race have different definitions of dystopias because I think that each generation has a fairly common fear of what the future is to bring. Another common dystopia theme of this day and age is the zombie apocalypse theme. While it seems highly unrealistic, people seem to fear that one day, some sickness (something like Zika for example) is going to overtake the entire human race except for some tiny percent that will survive the disease and will have to learn to live in the world without 99% of the current human population. This is one of the reasons why combining dystopia with Young Adult literature changes the genre quite a bit. It changes things because the young adults of this era worry about different things than the young adults of the 1990s. This allows for authors to focus in on the particular fears of this generation and this era when writing dystopian novels. Ultimately, everyone has different definitions of dystopia; but altogether, I’d say that dystopia is the embodiment of our worst fears for what might come in the future.