conference

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Throughout our class, we have been discussing many aspects of dystopia and its context in society, but one topic we keep returning to is the definition of dystopia. In the article “Christianity in Dystopia,” Peter Halabu dedicates a significant section to defining dystopia, and his conclusions are well-thought out and pertinent. He reflects many ideas we have discussed in class when defining a dystopia while also introducing some new interpretations. Similarly to my presentation, he identifies a five-point system towards defining a dystopia: “1) It is intended by the author to be a critique of his era’s sociopolitical climate; 2) It is set in a world recognizably our own, though in the future; 3) It follows a single individual protagonist or small group of individual protagonists, each of whom is a realistic, normal human being; 4) It is set in an ostensibly utopian (but actually dehumanizing) society, which has serious deficiencies caused by human drives and characteristics; 5) And it contains direct sociopolitical commentary inserted into the plotline,” all five of which he expands upon in greater detail in his paper (Halabu 9). Anyone aiming to supplement their definition of dystopia or find inspiration for other avenues to explore when defining it should absolutely check out this section in the paper.

While his section on defining a dystopia would be most useful for everyone in the course, Halabu’s main topic centers around the role of religion, Christianity specifically, in dystopian society. Halabu concludes that while most dystopias do not portray Christianity specifically, most “present dystopian societies in a deeply and consciously religious paradigm,” even if there is no outright god to worship (Halabu 2). Many contain a godlike figure around which the society revolves, priest-like figures that expound on the “morals” and divinity of this god and enforce its teachings, and the proliferation of sins and punishments. Therefore, some dystopias have Christian influence even if Christianity is not present outright. Although I am the only one that I know of specifically focusing on how religion is portrayed and used in dystopia, anyone who is researching what goes into creating a dystopian society would be remiss without including the role of religion since it is so important in our society now, and as Halabu asserts, “the message of a dystopian novel, however, is not so much to warn “that we must brace ourselves for a certain disaster” (18), but that if preventive measures are not taken in the present, today’s society is likely to turn into the novel’s future dystopia” (Halabu 3).

In order to support his thesis, Halabu explores the role of religion in seven dystopian books, 1984, Brave New World, Anthem, Player Piano, Farenheit 451, We, and The Handmaid’s Tale. This further validates his thesis that dystopian societies are, for the most part, inherently religious, by showing how each novel portrays a religiously oppressive society. His definition of dystopia is therefore relevant because by outlining the skeleton of a dystopian society, he can demonstrate how religion can go towards maintaining that control and oppression. One of the most pertinent points he displays this way is his assertion that “the god of any given dystopian society is (by my analysis) an embodiment of that society’s first principle, the goal or value which animates the society” because in his definition of dystopia, he posits that a dystopian society is a representation of a wrong the author sees in society now (Halabu 36).

 

POST 4: Describe your upcoming conference paper by giving the audience a small preview, or abstract, of your argument. Make sure to include the title of the paper and your main arguments; additionally, make an effort to hype up your paper by talking about its most interesting elements (perhaps a fascinating source, or the really strong argument you came up with.) Aim to persuade your classmates that your paper is one to look forward to hearing during our conference.

 

My paper is on the role of religion in dystopia. If I were watching me present this, I would be supremely unexcited about this- while religion is important, it is often boring in an academic context. However, I am really going to outline how dystopian and real governments exploit religion to gain control over its citizens. History is full of examples of how religion can be exploited to justify horrible atrocities.

I’ll be talking about North Korea, which is always fascinating. I mean, a nation where their leader is said to have written six operas in two years and 1500 books, hit eleven holes in one on his first time golfing, controlled the weather with his mind and caused a new star and a double rainbow when he was born is undoubtedly engrossing. (By the way, it’s probably only feasible to hit a hole-in-one on a few golf holes out of eighteen- it’s possible on par 3 holes, on which there are 5 AT MOST and only a couple of par 4 holes, but now I’m just getting picky). And the man who did this looks like this????

I mean, his neck rolls, his glasses, his liver spots, HIS TEETH (ew)…

And his son, whose picture you will probably see next to the definition of “pudgy” in the dictionary:

By the way, THIS is his picture on Wikipedia: that’s propaganda if I’ve ever seen one:

Anyhoo, I compare it to my independent reading novel, Perfect Ruin, which has a deeply religious regime ruling it. North Korea, while technically areligious, operates under the worship of their leader, with the people striving to emulate him. I highlight five points religious regimes use to control their citizens as such: deification of leaders, treating religious doctrine as fact, fear of outsiders, debt to the government, and silence of dissenters. By manipulating these factors, government gets an iron grip on its citizens and gives the citizens a justification of how their government is treating them. And when something so good and meaningful gets twisted into a way to suppress and abuse its citizens, it begs a further investigation.

 

By the way, I’m sorry I forgot to post this yesterday. I have two really stressful tests this week as well as that project yesterday, so I’ve been really busy and overwhelmed. Sorry!

Why do people have conflicting opinions? How is the same society viewed in opposing ways? What makes a society a dystopia or a utopia in someone’s head?

I know you can’t fully answer these because I am not a psychology student and don’t know everything about the way people think. But, these are some of the questions I hope to bring to attention in my conference presentation regarding the duality of opinions on character’s societies in YA dystopian literature. We have discussed in class that most dystopias are a result from a failed utopia, but there are still people who believe that their society isn’t failed at all. Usually this is the societies leaders, or government. Their opinion is based on their opinions of human nature. So, what makes people change their opinions? Is it that something happens to make their minds change? Is it that they’ve felt this way the whole time? My argument is that it is based on their upbringing and personal environment that makes the see the world differently. This is most present in the protagonist character because in the stories they are the main ones who see their world as broken and want to fix it. We also look at the dual side, and why people believe that their society is perfect the way it is, and want to get rid of the people trying to change it. Do they want to keep their idea because it keeps them in power? Do they deep down think their society is wrong but are too lazy to change it?

With my argument, there comes a lot of opinion questions and I am to give my opinion and ideas to answer these questions. I do believe that others will have conflicting ideas because this is such an open for discussion topic. While people have their opinions and ideas can change from different examples in novels, I want to give the overall outline to the duality shown between whether someone views their society as a dystopia or a utopia.

pictures:

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/5aXa_PsWYf6PdHDeNfu-v6lZ1-hbqUvzQlVilogr-feJXh31SmUQBlc5A4U1m_NMNX6YyliHicHaIrG6qVAvMolyXqLAsmmgYcwN3Cf_3Sr9hSfSSgJHK6uM8zkQIvI53IJyOao

https://media.giphy.com/media/KleikEP4xo6hW/giphy.gif