literature

All posts tagged literature

We have all read and discussed 1984 in depth plenty of times; however, it is interesting to look at how it shaped us as a society.  Joanne W.’s prezi, The Cultural Impact of 1984, does just this; specifically, it explores the effects 1984 had on our pop culture. She does this with a slideshow of direct examples from various sources, spread across movies, TV, music, advertising and art, comic books, video games, and books. The slideshow itself is made up of seven columns of varying heights, one dedicated to each of these categories. She includes pictures and a detailed explanation of how each of these works relate to 1984 to emphasize her point. An example of this would be how the logo of the Batman: Arkham City video game is like an inverted INGSOC logo and how the antagonist often gives propaganda speeches through big televised screens. In the end, she uses all these sources to argue that people look towards 1984 for inspiration and social guidance to deny the control and to embrace their individuality. 

This prezi is a very efficient resource because it not only shows the effects of 1984 to help us understand how it affects our world, but also provides us with a plethora of dystopian worlds to explore. These worlds are mostly built on Orwellian totalitarianism, so they help us better understand how government control can affect us in different ways. Some examples are Equilibrium, 1985, Brazil, V for Vendetta, and Half-Life 2. Each of these works has its own backstory and reasons for the totalitarian government ruling; but they are all united under 1984’s legacy.

I personally want to use this source to show how 1984 has affected us as a society and to highlight how deep our opposition to these Orwellian conce
pts flows. The sheer amount of references in this presentation really shows us how much a dystopian work can affect the way we think of a concept such as government control.

Works Cited

W, Joanne. “The Cultural Impact of 1984.” Prezi.com, 20 Apr. 2015, prezi.com/97efdev5igwx/the-cultural-impact-of-1984/. Accessed 24 Feb. 2017.

My presentation will be discussing the effects of scientific advancements on dystopian literature, focusing on neuroscience elements and nanotechnology in the brain. The title of my paper is “Examining the Feasibility and Morality of Neuroscience Advancements in Modern Society & Literature,” and it will elaborate on whether specific technology is practical and ethical in human subjects. My research will then link this claim to modern society and dystopian literature, explaining how developments in science and technology influence the content and availability of dystopian fiction.

I am incredibly excited to present something that I am personally extremely passionate about – the human brain. The brain is one of the most complex parts of the body, acting as the center for all rational thought and control. Interestingly enough, scientists do not fully understand how it functions, which is why it remains source of mystery and possibility to the scientific community. For this reason, I look forward to educating those outside the field of neuroscience about how the brain really works, tying it in to something my audience can relate to. Specifically, I will be discussing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) new brain chips, which are silicone computer chips implanted into the brain to enhance memory and ability and to often help regain lost function. These chips are being tested in soldiers, to possibly enhance their combat skills. Is this possible on a larger scale? Is it even ethical? It’s questions like these that I will be analyzing and breaking down. I will then relate this new advancement to Feed, by M.T. Anderson. In this sci fi novel, brain chips are implemented in the society, with forms of communication, advertisement, and entertainment all centered on the “Feed.” I will show how scientific development might have influenced this kind of fiction, also showing how dystopian literature pitches a predicted future in which all of these developments are used in everyday life.

Works Cited

Devesh. “Want To Implant Or Remove Memories? Use DARPA Brain Chips.” Tech Live Info, CloudPeer Media Technologies, 23 June 2014, techliveinfo.com/want-implant-remove-memories-use-darpa-brain-chips/. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.

Why are dystopias so attractive in the world of literature today? I can’t speak for the millions around the world who read them, but for myself, dystopias have drawn me in with their projected futures based on the mirroring of certain aspects of our own world’s brokenness, along with the character development a dystopia requires of its protagonist(s). There are many more reasons than the two above, however, given the subjectiveness of each answer, I will be giving my personal reasonings.

The majority of dystopian societies have strong ties to certain, similar aspects of our own westernized part of the world. Take the 1984 for example, the government is monitoring every citizen and the news broadcasts very biased, or even untrue, information. Sound familiar? The Hunger Games depicts a future that could very easily become our own should similar events take place. Our generation has become desensitized to the kind of violence and lack of morality that would leave past generations aghast, which would make the transition from our current society into a similar dystopian one easier than we might think.

It is said that hard times bring out one’s true nature. This is evident in many of today’s dystopian novels. The protagonist experiences deep, personal challenges and is forced to really discover who they are. The character development in the dystopian genre is one of my favorite’s because of how intense a process it typically is. Take the Divergent series for example – Tris Prior evolves from a reserved, slightly timid 16-year old into a strong young woman who knows what it means to sacrifice for others and have others sacrifice for you. Watching a character shift into someone with more depth, who has experienced hard times and yet still carries on, this is one of the most intriguing aspects of the dystopian genre.

The word “Utopia” to me means celestial, ideal and or means an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect . So, dystopia to me means an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad. Dystopia can be used in different ways and in different genres. In romance dystopias, the definition could mean once true love turning into sudden tragedies, or even into heartbreakers. Batman Forever and The Maze Runner are the first books that come to mind because both of the books talk on how one of the main characters are searching for “the truth” and “lost loved ones” that were taking from them and how they try to get back to their “celestial” lifestyle they had before being brought into a new lifestyle of displacement. As for apocalypse dystopias, that could mean life threatening and or world-ending incidents in a terrible place. The easiest apocalyptic dystopia that comes to mind is the movie 2012. This movie was the perfect example of apocalyptic dystopian literature because it starts out as a regular sunny day, then the world comes to an end with natural disaster, killing millions of people unexpectedly and at the end thousands of people find security on traveling boats and they look for new settling areas. The combination of dystopia and young adult literature can alter the genre by having action, horror, or suspense. The most common altered dystopian action, the violence and pinnacles of the reading manipulates the reader’s perception of the dystopian by giving subplots with the protagonist that catches the reader’s eye, for instance, chases, fights, battles, and races. Horror dystopian readings alter the genre, but not as much as action dystopias because dystopias are unpleasant and horror is scary and mainly gruesome which makes the dystopian more unpleasant and terrifying.

I always felt like I knew what utopia and dystopia meant and didn’t put much thought into either of them. However, after CCUL readings and class discussions I have come to realize the depths behind the words. While utopia describes an ideally perfect society, dystopia presents us with a broken social atmosphere where the government paints this seemingly perfect view of society through oppressive control; however both of them make a criticism of a current social system, political tendencies or trends. We live in a world where the analysis of societal norms is not a foreign concept, and our trending YA literature is apparently shifting towards dystopian novels.

While dystopian novels may range from science-fiction, horror, fantasy, post-apocalypse…; there are many elements that are common in the majority of examples of this genre that should not be overlooked:

  • Propaganda is a very iconic feature of dystopian literature. Advertisements, pamphlets, television, posters, flyers… they are specifically design to control society while depicting this utopian society.
  • It is not surprising to read about citizens who have been stripped of their freedom, independent thinking and access to information. We usually encounter with descriptions of characters who are under constant surveillance and cannot exercise their free will, having to conform to a government-set uniformity.

  • Natural environment seems to have reached a point of near destruction and is scarce. Many dystopian novels set their plots in futuristic scenery with barely any greens.
  • It is also worth mentioning the fact that control is not only exercised by the government (The Hunger Games), but sometimes corporations (The Maze Runner) and even technology (The Matrix).
  • The main character prototype of this genre tends to be an individual who questions authority and the existing regimes that are oppressing society. The protagonist is someone who tend to realize the negative aspects of their dystopian society. It is not uncommon to find novels where the population is drugged or brainwashed to the point they do not understand the reality of their situation and it is often the main character the one who wakes up from this state due to diverse reasons.

In my opinion, the combination of dystopia with another genre definitively means a shift in the topics covered and how the plot unfolds, adjusting literature towards these other subgenres. I however do not believe they immensely change the definition because its basic traits continue to be present, mildly affected, but still there and creating the atmosphere previously discussed. Combining dystopia with YA literature probably means adjusting the context to a younger audience and making sure the reading is appealing to the younger generations that are picking up the book. One can notice the trends in slightly younger protagonists and the frequent apparition of young romance that tend to attract the public they are targeted at.

So, why is it that such a perfect word describes such an imperfect reality?

dys·to·pi·a

A setting of systematic disparities and restrictions; typically exists in the future or in fictional places.

It’s difficult to concretely categorize the settings of novels/movies as dystopias, because how each citizen of that society is affected by society as a whole is unique. Take the citizens of Panem (the fictional setting for The Hunger Games), for example. If you asked a Capitol resident whether or not they lived in a dystopian society, the answer would be “no”. Everyone they come into contact with seems to be well taken care of, and all seem to be living comfortable lives. However, if you ask a citizen of the districts, their answer would be much different. Because of this reason, I use the term “systematic disparity” to describe a dystopia – not everyone must be suffering in order for their society to be considered a dystopia. Another aspect that is often associated with a dystopia is the use of futuristic technology in order to reinforce the society’s status quo. It is because of this aspect that dystopias are often combined with the science fiction genre, creating dystopian science fiction. Dystopias often exist in the future, so it would make sense for new technology to have been developed in the time between now and the story’s time period.

To me, what differentiates between the genres of “dystopian literature” and “dystopian science fiction” is how prevalent that futuristic technology is in the story. Science fiction focuses on the technology and its use, while standard dystopian fiction may include it but not make it an important factor. Star Wars, for example, isn’t often touted as a dystopia, yet it shares many elements of a regular dystopia. This leads me to classify it as dystopian science fiction.

Replace these Storm Troopers with Peacekeepers and the Alliance’s logo with Panem’s and you could easily mistake this for a Hunger Games screencap  http://www.starwarsnewsnet.com/2015/04/star-wars-celebration-anaheim-the-force-awakens-gets-a-new-trailer.html

Combining dystopia with the YA genre results in more relatable storylines. The YA genre is so popular because it isn’t limited to one age group; people of all ages can relate and enjoy the stories told in an easy-to-read YA format. Everyone over the typical age cap of the YA genre can relate to these YA storylines because they were young adults at one point in their lives as well. By utilizing universal experiences and feelings (whether it’s a first love, sibling relations, or competitions with others), YA dystopias make their more outlandish settings and problems more common and relatable. Because of this, they can reach a larger audience and have a bigger impact on the world. Utopian literature/media is made better because of its close association to the YA genre.

To me, dystopia is simply the failure of utopia. I believe that, in literature, a dystopia doesn’t just “exist”, it slowly forms out of the degradation of what was once considered a utopia. Examples of this are Panem in The Hunger Games, the Community in The Giver, and even the island in Lord of the Flies. They all become dystopias in different ways, but all were, at one point, considered utopias.

Panem is described as the futuristic government region that grew out of the ashes of North America. In Panem, citizens are split up into different Districts, each responsible for providing a specific product to the government, the Capitol. There is also new technology, such as cool hovercrafts and super fast trains. While this seems organized and ideal, the districts end up feeling belittled by the Capitol and get sick of constantly feeling as if they’re working only for the rich residents there. This causes the uprising that prefaces the Games themselves.

In The Giver, an “idealistic” community is created where there is little to no human emotion or creativity. The citizens there don’t feel love or sadness, and there is no color. Every citizen is assigned a family and a job. The absence of what I like to call “human variation” makes citizens easy to control and allows for equal distribution of resources, which seems like the solution to most problems I see in the world today. However, the main character Jonas gets a taste of emotion, color, and “true life” (as we know it today) and can never go back to accepting his uniform and bland community. So he leaves to search for a freer world, and it is implied he comes back to “rescue” his family and friends. Here, a utopia doesn’t necessarily “fall” within the pages of the book; but nevertheless a utopia turns into a dystopia, this time through the eyes of a citizen.

In Lord of the Flies, school-age boys are plane-wrecked on an abandoned island. While this may seem like a horror story to some, to the boys this a dream come true. No schoolwork, no nagging parents: just absolute freedom to goof and run around. However, the perils of Mother Nature quickly comes into play and some of the boys realize they would rather be home. The novel soon turns into an ongoing argument between two groups of boys: is this island a utopia or a dystopia? Do they want to rule their new land or be recused?

In each of these novels, a seemingly ideal place (at least to the characters within the story) becomes dangerous or unwelcoming. I believe that the overall message of the dystopian genre is to be careful in the search for perfection: it can come at a cost.

Dystopian Literature is a relatively new and upcoming genre, so much so that its definition is still widely debated. Though the common factors that pertain to dystopias in most of their use throughout literature portray them as societies with overbearing and oppressive governments, that still doesn’t completely define a dystopia. A dystopian society can be described as one where conditions are incredibly bad and unpleasant for the inhabitants, whether due to an oppressive government, degrading environmental conditions, etc, but the type of dystopia portrayed can often be influence by the genre of the book. A sci-fi style dystopia be one where living condition on Earth are becoming less and less inhabitable due to some sort of environmental degradation, whereas a romantic style dystopia may put two lovers up against a powerful government type figure (such as in The Hunger Games). The concept of dystopia is constantly adapting, but as more dystopian literature emerges, the genre becomes more defined.

The genre as a whole has become increasingly popular among young adults, but why exactly is somewhat unclear. Dystopias tend to unveil or poke at some sort of pressing issue in a current society, making people see how pressing and important an issue really is. So is the reason for a rise in young adult dystopias meant to show young people (the future leaders of our world) the prominent issues at hand? Even if they don’t quite get it when they first read it, kids will subliminally absorb the meaning behind a dystopian style book. They will be able to see that this imagined place has problems and the problems with it are usually front and center through the duration of the story. After picking up on these issues, the only thing left for young adults to do is apply them. The story of a dystopia is just a façade covering the ever-present issues that impact a society and dystopias make these issues clear, such that when the readers of these novels grow up to be adults, they will ideally have at some point considered, “What needs to be done to remedy these problems.”