Dystopia. A perfect world with an imperfection. The societies living in most dystopias are aware that their world is imperfect, however it is beyond their control to fix it. A common dystopian storyline proceeds like this: world heading towards perfection gets disrupted by big event(war, Armageddon, the Earth running out of resources, etc.) only to overcome said event through a skewed ruling system. This fragile and rigid ruling system is then challenged by the protagonist, who often attempts to overthrow it by becoming a voice for the oppressed society. While a very broad and general outline of what dystopian literature is, this analysis sheds light on what sets it apart from other genres. The concept of an imperfect society is key to a dystopia, so a book featuring such a society must be dystopian, right?
Well not really. See this definition of dystopia starts to break down when the author creates a world beyond this imperfect society. Let me clarify. In a fictional world where the Earth is perfectly normal except for a post-apocalyptic United States, is someone living in Italy, living in a dystopia? Surely, this war doesn’t affect them, so is a book detailing their daily lives dystopian? What about a sci-fi novel set in space where a couple of the planets are run as dystopian society? Why would this be classified as dystopian? Well it shouldn’t be. A dystopian novel disregards what is happening outside of it’s society, because it isn’t important. In the Hunger Games, the reader isn’t told what is happening in the rest of the world. It is assumed that there is no life outside of the capitol-district system. In the end, this is what defines a dystopian novel to me. A dystopian world, and a story pertaining only to that world. However, this makes it easy for genre’s to overlap dystopian literature.
A similar overlap happened between adult dystopias and children’s literature. The fusion of those two created YA dystopias. The politics is usually subliminal in these worlds. For example, the the tension between the districts and the Capitol is a secondary theme, hidden behind the shocking premise of children murdering each other. This makes it easier for younger audiences to enjoy these works, while still capturing the attention of older readers. This has shifted the dystopian genre to where a larger message/political critique is hidden behind a simpler, bigger problem.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic, 2008.
Happy Friday everyone!
Today in class, we spent some time thinking about the audience for your Common First Week (CFW) videos, which includes other Georgia Tech students and faculty. We worked as a class to describe the audience, to find what they have in common, and to think about the kinds of appeals to make and to avoid when creating a communication aimed at this specific audience. It is a good habit to get into to conduct this kind of audience analysis whenever you are starting the process to create a communication and we will emphasize this kind of audience analysis throughout the semester.
Then, you worked in small groups to help one another brainstorm specific arguments for the CFW Video and to find evidence you can use to support the claims you are trying to work on. Remember, the more specific your evidence, the more compelling your argument will be. Also, don’t forget that a video allows for a lot of different ways of conveying that information; be as creative and innovative as you can!
Don’t forget: there are also tons of resources out there to help you with this project. To get you started, take a look at the following items:
- The Presentation Rehearsal Studios in the Clough Undergraduate Learning Center (CULC), in which you can work with a presentation coach and also record yourself and then send a link of the video to yourself (or anybody else).
- The Library’s gadget-lending service, which allows you to check out a range of equipment, including laptops, tablets, and cameras.
- YouTube features an easy how-to tutorial if you have never used it before.
- YouTube also allows you to annotate your video by adding text, links, or other graphics, with this helpful how-to guide
- If you get stuck, there are also a lot of helpful tips on YouTube, especially the YouTube Help Center.
We then spent the rest of the class focused on the reading. First, we talked through the handout on TSquare titled “Tips for Reading Difficult Material” and discussed the importance of establishing techniques and reading practices that help you understand material and build a reference for coming back to that material when you need it, either for writing a paper, studying for an exam, or for projects and professional development in the workplace. We went over a number of tips and techniques for breaking down difficult readings, annotating those readings and preparing yourself to work with that material.
We then talked about the first two chapters of the Cambridge Companion for Utopian Literature (CCUL), focusing on the concepts that were introduced and especially the key terms that the book introduced. (The PPT presentation that highlights these key terms is available to you on TSquare). Over the course of the semester, we will continue to come back to these terms and expand on the definitions and understandings of their meanings, so it is important to become familiar with this lexicon.
Reminder, there is no class on Monday because of the MLK holiday.
- Complete CFW Video
- Upload to YouTube, submit link via TSquare
- Choose Independent Reading Book (top 3 choices)
- Read CCUL 3 & 4
- We’ll discuss evolution of utopia as a genre in class on Wednesday
- Read article on Tsquare: Cart’s “From Insider to Outsider”
- Bring your laptop/tablet to class on Wednesday: we’ll discuss Twitter and Blogs in class and get you set up to start using our class’s social media components
Have a lovely long weekend everyone!
In today’s class, we focused mainly on the Common First Week project, discussing in depth the different WOVEN modes, the challenges of working in these modes, and the goals you may have for improving within each of those modes.
We first discussed more about the theme for the course: YA dystopia. We talked briefly about how this theme would frame our discussions of communication and how your own independent reading would feature into the research assignments we will complete later in the semester. You will want to peruse the list of pre-approved titles for the Independent Reading Assignment (available on TSquare) and choose the book you would like to work with this semester (come prepared with your top 3 choices, in case someone else has already chosen your first choice).
After that discussion, you worked in teams to brainstorm different forms of media and communication that emphasize each of the different modes and we talked about the ways in which these modes function independently and in concert with the others.
We then brainstormed concrete ways to improve your work in each of those modes and discussed the ways in which you have or have not worked on improving these modes specifically in your previous English/Communication courses.
Finally, you started writing independently, thinking through the mode you would like to focus on when it comes to your Common First Week video. I asked you to write about not only your concerns or fears about the mode you have chosen, but also about a goal you would like to achieve as you work to improve in that mode of communication.
- Read CCUL 1 & 2
- Read WOVENText 3
- Begin work on CFW Video
- Begin brainstorming/writing script
- Reserve camera from the library if you need to borrow one
- If you haven’t already, print, fill out, sign and return the Statement of Understanding on the last page of the syllabus (PDF available on TSquare).
- Order/purchase textbooks (see syllabus)
- Look at pre-approved books for Independent Reading (on TSquare) and choose top 3 for your own research purposes (due Wednesday, January 18)