Research Paper

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I stumbled across an article written by Joshua Garrison for the American Educational History Journal that I think could be incredibly useful for many people’s papers. This article surrounds the topic of how education is portrayed and utilized in dystopias, and compares this with how people view eduction in the “real” world.

The article opens with a real Presidential speech about school, and discusses the negative backlash to the speech. This opens up the article into a further discussion about the role of education in politics, and different political views on, or fears of, public education. The article talks briefly about the definition of dystopia, and how it essentially represents the writer’s “worst fears”.  Garrison mentions how both political parties employ “dystopian imagery” to push their own agendas, and bring down the other side. Next, Garrison names several dystopian novels, more or less in chronological order starting in the 1800s and moving to present day, and describes the role of education in each one. He compares and contrasts the novels, and explains how the educational set-up in each one was inspired by real life events, such as the rise of the  Ford-style Model-T industrial line, where everyone works as a part of a larger system in a pre-determined group. Though each novel is different, Garrison ultimately argues that every author saw children’s schooling in their dystopia as a way to impose control. Garrison concludes with some examples from various novels, where the kid is the “corrupt” one, brainwashed by society, and the parent is the one who recognizes he or she is in a dystopia. I thought this was an interesting contrast to our class, where most protagonists are still school-aged.

The author argues that the role of education, both in real life and in dystopian novels, is a political tool. In dystopias, education is used to brainwash children into believing false statements, or into believing a specific way the world “works”. In real life, Garrison argues, the role and implementation of public education is a controversial topic because both sides of the political spectrum fear the other side will promote their ideas. Thus, modern day dystopias can be created, because the “worst fears” of a certain political group will come true with the success of another group. Ultimately, Garrison’s point is that the role of public education in “real life” is very complicated, as some argue it is the key to equality and democracy, while others argue it strips the rights and freedoms of citizens. This constant debate and fear of role of education being in the wrong hands is mirrored in several best-selling dystopias.

Garrison makes a clear and fair argument since he never takes a political stance on public education, or sides with a political party. The article gives evidence in form of direct quotes from people of varying political identity, but never deems one as right or wrong.

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.”, 20 Apr. 2015, Accessed 24 Feb. 2017.

Throughout my research, I encountered several interesting sources that I found to be credible and useful for my research paper on technological advances. After listening to all the conference presentations, I noticed that several other people talked about the different applications of technology in dystopian literature. After going through my sources, I feel that the article “From Utopia to Dystopia: Technology, Society and What We Can Do About It” might be useful to those who discussed the uses of technology and its consequences in YA dystopias.

The article was written by Alejandro Garcia De La Garza and discusses the progression of technological advancement from the second half of the twentieth century to now. It was first assumed that technological advances would continue to improve living conditions without any problems, but Garza argues that these advances also brought security challenges. The dream of technology curing disease and ending poverty is not being accomplished. Instead, technology is advancing way too quickly for society to keep up with controlling and understanding it. The article also provides examples of how certain innovations that were meant to enhance our lives, actually intensify the problems modern society faces.

Garza is providing valuable information that can be used in an argument that even though technology can achieve great things, one has to be careful when it is advancing too fast for society to keep up. Using real world examples of how technology is affecting our society in a negative way is building Garza’s ethos and can therefore be taken as a valuable source. The author has an MA in conflict, security and development and is therefore knowledgeable about the topic that he was writing about. This article was a great source for my research project and for some of your projects because it shows how our society is affected by technological advances and how that can lead to a potential dystopia.

Works Cited

Garza, Alejandro Garcia De La. “From Utopia to Dystopia: Technology, Society and What We Can Do About It.” OpenSecurity, 20 Dec. 2013.

For my conference presentation on Monday, March 13th, I will be presenting the highlights of my research paper How an Author’s Perception of Perfection Influences His/Her Dystopian Society. I believe that “perfect” is a term that is relative to an author’s own unique life. I will use contextual examples from our readings thus far to point out where I see each author’s values showcased in their writing. I will argue that what a given author perceives as a “perfect society” will ultimately determine the type of dystopia that he or she creates. Consequently, I will bring up the fact that a lot of what authors prioritize in shaping a dystopian flaw is developed from their backgrounds, the way they were raised, and their beliefs. Additionally, I will give an overview of the key discoveries I have made, simply because there has not been much prior research done on the topic.

My presentation will begin with an outline of my thesis and my overarching thoughts. I will then give a brief summary of the origin of dystopias and the idea of “perfection.” I will then segue into literary examples that I use in my paper, such as Shatter Me, The Hunger Games, and Little Brother. In my presentation, I will analyze the societal flaws that I see present in the novels and I will consider how those relate to the authors’ backgrounds and upbringings. I also utilize two different samples of forums where people of varying ages have shared what they believe a perfect society to look like. One shares responses from a college-level English class while the other presents opinions from the older adult population, which helps me to contrast the varying values that different ages possess. With the ideas presented in the forums, I will extrapolate what I believe their dystopias would look like based on what they value when creating their utopias.

I hope that the synopsis of my research is intriguing to you, and that my usage of both concrete evidence and inferred material is interesting to you. In order to see where my research thus far has brought me, you will have to listen to my conference presentation and read my paper. I encourage you to reach out to me about any questions or suggestions you may have regarding my research-especially considering that much of it is being developed based on my own ideas.

Works Cited:

How do we learn everything we know about specific dystopian societies?

We live through the main character, gaining their perspective on the situation; everything we know is what they know or think they know. This would indicate that the creation of the protagonist of a dystopian work is very important, and many details must be taken into account. This realization then led me to ask the question: why are the vast majority of dystopian protagonists female?

In my research paper, “Female protagonists make differences in dystopian worlds as well as our own”, I examine how authors (and screenwriters) of dystopian works use a female protagonist as a mechanism to challenge stereotypes and expectations of young women in our societies, thus empowering them and encouraging them to not conform. My research delves into the female protagonists’ skills and capabilities, love triangles within YA dystopia, and real-life activism.

Female protagonists in dystopias are equipped by the author with an array of skills and qualities that help her fight for her cause. Her capabilities communicate “girl power”: an attitude of self-assertiveness and political insight, and this image of the character aims to dissolve any degrading stereotypes of women, as well as cultural expectations of women to stand down or conform to society’s perception of “beauty”.

Love triangles seem to come hand-in-hand with female protagonists in dystopias. Are the authors writing love triangles because they sell well? Maybe. Is that the only reason? Definitely not. Have you ever wondered what the point of a love triangle is? What they accomplish? My paper investigates the use of the love triangle, and how it allows the presence of choice for the female protagonist. Furthermore, her choice often represents a much bigger decision, such as whether she will sit back and watch, or throw herself into the action.

Finally, the effects of the female protagonists in dystopia can be seen across the world. Leadership camps inspired by Katniss have popped up, and protests using symbols from dystopian novels.

Female protagonists in dystopia are empowering for young female readers, and insightful and correcting for any reader with a perception shaped by society’s expectations and standards. These fictional women are contributing to the author’s underlying messages, and this certainly makes them stand apart from those in regular young adult fiction.

For my conference presentation on Monday, March 13th, I will be giving an overview of my research paper The Fortitude of Selflessness in Undermining Propaganda in Dystopian Societies, and highlighting a few of the main and most compelling arguments within it. I will argue that in dystopian societies, there is a reoccurring theme that those who are in power (the upper-class, the government, etc.) will create a façade to hide their imperfect lives behind and control the masses through propaganda in the form of social entrenchment, oppression, and fear. I will further argue that this method of control is adept at pitting the citizenry against themselves, but is structured on the assumption that they will act in their own self interests. Cracks in the façade begin to form and propaganda begins to lose its grip when a selfless hero emerges and is thrown into the midst of the ruling class and is put in the spotlight for the nation to see. It is through the hero’s selflessness and refusal to be used as the government’s pawn, that allows him/her to rouse a rebellion and begin to bring down the government.

My paper uses Red Queen and The Hunger Games as contextual evidence. Since Red Queen is a recently published novel, little scholarly writing on it has been published. Consequentially, I will present my argument through the lens of The Hunger Games and show how Red Queen exhibits strong correlation.

I will first address the methods of propaganda and control the Capital uses in the districts; in “I Was Watching You Mockingjay”, Sean Connors presents a compelling argument that the Capital maintains internal class divisions in the districts in order to pit the citizenry against themselves and not the Capitol. Secondly I will present the selflessness Katniss exhibits throughout The Hunger Games. Finally, I will analyze how serving Rue and caring for her, as well as Katniss putting Peeta’s interests before her own, highlight her refusal to be used by the Capital, and are the actions that defeated the Capitol’s propaganda and began to unite the districts. As a result, the Capitol had to increase its use of violence to maintain order, and eventually declare war in an attempt to suppress the rebellion.

If my thesis sounds compelling and, and you want to know how Red Queen supports my thesis and strongly correlates to The Hunger Games, you will have to read my paper and listen to my conference presentation to find out. Feel free to be actively engaged and ask questions after I present and/or tweet me with any material you have questions about, or think I should address in my paper.


Davidson, James. A question from the audience. Business 2 Community, 31 July 2012,     170#ja8odJQiywP6Fpj1.97. Accessed 4 Mar.2017.

The themes of my independent reading book, Red Queen, are centralized around the idea of how the ruling class maintains their power and control over the lower class in their (dystopian) society. There is a strong correlation to The Hunger Games in how the Capital maintains control over the twelve districts. In Red Queen, the Silvers continually “show off” their power to the Reds to remind them who has the “right to rule” and the power to do so. Ubiquitous propaganda in the forms of lies and deceit, as well as forced conscription reinforce the façade that the Silvers are perfect and have everything in order. In a similar fashion, the Capital’s propaganda throughout the districts in Panem, emphasized by the Peacekeepers, spies, and the Hunger Games, reinforce the Capital’s power and right to rule, as well as the false truth that Panem is thriving (this is especially prominent in the events after Katniss and Peeta win the Hunger Games).

In both societies, a hero with the potential to topple the established order emerges from the lowest class and is put in a spotlight before the ruling class. For Mare, this happens during the Queenstrial when she discovers her abilities in front of the royal Silver families; for Katniss, this occurs when she volunteers as tribute for Prim, and finds herself as the District 12 tribute for the 74th Hunger Games and lands before the eyes of the Capital and the nation of Panem.

The element that really interests me, and is what I will be discussing in my research paper, is finding that moment, exemplified in Red Queen and The Hunger Games, where propaganda in dystopian societies begins to fail and how the established order crumples under the actions of the hero (i.e. Katniss and Mare). From the research I have conducted and will continue to do, I have noticed that the ability of both governments, in The Hunger Games and Red Queen, to control the masses by propaganda and fear, hinges on the assumption that citizens will look out and act in their own interests, not others’. Propaganda begins to lose its grip when a selfless leader who refuses to be used as a pawn and controlled by the government emerges and will continually look to the interests of others before him or herself. Both literary leaders, Mare and Katniss, come from the lower class, break the law to provide some form of support for their family, and also have anger directed toward the ruling class. It is their selflessness that enables them to subvert the established order while among their midst and seemingly being used as the government’s “pawn”.

            I will then conclude my paper by arguing what these themes translate to as a message to young adult readers. So far my research points me in the direction that these themes underscore the belief to kids that they can make a difference in the world they are living in. If there is something in society they do not agree with, or do not want to be a part of, they can make a difference. Not by having special abilities (like Mare and Katniss), but by being selfless. By not giving into power and pressure, but by looking out for others and making an impact that way.



“Katniss Buries Rue with Flowers.” bitchmedia, Bitch Media, 10 Mar. 2014, 19 Feb. 2017.