The title of my paper is Dystopia and the Real World. The main argument I want to exclaim in my upcoming conference paper is the fact that the current world we live in is a dystopia. I go through the ways in which we defined a dystopia and establish why they are applicable to the real world.
To further my definition of the real world as a dystopia I use articles that explain why and how first world countries are similar to the elite societies and third world countries are relatable to the poor societies, tying in the class system and capitalism. I also include a very interesting article on how drastic and scary situations lead to more dystopic control. This article talks about the Trayvon Martin case and how it changed the laws and what it may lead to.
After establishing how the current world is a dystopia, I compare our real life situations to those we have read and seen in books and movies. I establish how the issues that characters go thorough in the books are similar to our life and how sometimes it’s hard for us to see that based on our personal situations. I show how political and personal background can affect how readers interpret a dystopia and the reaction reader have after reading.
My overall conference paper establishes connections of the real world to dystopias, explaining how our backgrounds, personal and political, effect how we read and react to dystopias and that reaction transitions our world into more of a dystopia. I hope that my paper sparks interest on the effect dystopias can have unintentionally on our lives and the real world and what that means for our future. As a generation that has read a lot of dystopias, and students who have studied dystopias for a long time, I think it’s important to look at the after effect and how to see the signs that a society like that is coming.
I have always wondered why young adult dystopian literature clicked so well with its modern readers and I have come to the conclusion that it is because the novels understand what teenagers are going through in their daily lives and utilize that in their works. I decided to specifically look at Francine Prose’s novel After. The argument of my presentation is this: How Francine Prose’s young adult dystopian novel After, or a YA dystopian novel in general works as an exaggerated reflection of the trials and tribulations teenagers face in their lives. The title of the presentation will be called YA Dystopias: Distorted Mirrors of Teenage Life.
Although the possibilities are endless in answering this question, I narrowed my main points to four. The first one will be about the parent-child relationship found in the novel as well as young adult books in general. This, by far, is my strongest point because all the other sources I have read seem to overlook this. I will be talking about how this already tumultuous relationship will be tested even further by the exaggeration of circumstances. Prose uses this idea of these bonds being tested by cutting them loose entirely as the parents of the students in her book remove themselves away completely from their children.
The second point will be how the dystopian world described by many young adult dystopian novels actually reflect the harsh environment of high-school. Although this point has been repeated by several of my sources, the interesting twist in After is that it is set in a high-school turning into a dystopia. The writer becomes almost literal with the idea of exaggerating all the old rules the school had before and implementing new ones to show the link.
My third point is about how the dystopian world in the novel impedes another goal many teenagers have: discovering the adult world. Again, this theme is prevalent in many YA books but here, what I found interesting was how the main character had to peel the layers of deceit presented by his school. His frustration is very real as it reflects the feelings of modern-day teenagers who are trying to understand the illogical world around them, also filled with lies and deceit.
My last point would be more of a contrast to the other points since the others were more about how dystopian novels reflect but exaggerate real-life issues. However, they keep the idea of teenage mentality of newfound emotions very real. In the book I am studying, the reactions the characters have to their environment is very real despite the absurdity of the situation. Their rebellious adventures are not well planned and daring while a romantic story is playing at the side. YA dystopian novels are still YA novels and therefore the echoes of teenage life are still rolling in the background.
My aim is not only to show common, recurring tropes in the genre, but to highlight why After is such an unique book despite heeding to them. It seems like Francine Prose is taking the idea of Dystopian novels as mirror images to our daily lives and making it more literal. The dystopia slides into the modern world and not vice versa.