All posts tagged research

One article that I found particularly helpful for my research, which will also be beneficial for others in the class, focuses on providing information about the risks of cosmetic surgeries to correct unattractive facial features. Diana Zuckerman wishes to examine risks associated with these types of surgeries to inform teens and young women in order to assist them in making their decisions, realizing that it’s difficult to determine when surguries cross the line. She begins the article by describing plastic surgery in developing teens, moves on to the risks involved with it, and then addresses possible solutions, all the while proving her point that this topic of research needs more time and energy to ensure that we aren’t ruining young girls’ lives.

65,000. To fix noses, lift breasts, perform tummy tucks, and go through with liposuction, 65,000 girls between the ages of 13 and 19 sought and received cosmetic surgery, many of whom did not make informed decisions (Zuckerman). Zuckerman points out that girls usually gain weight between 18 and 21 years old, so most girls who get surgery may need to get it again as their bodies change. Not only does she worry that teens don’t fully comprehend the risks involved, but the FDA has concerns about silicone gel breast implants and how young women don’t know all the information. As Zuckerman explains the risks involved with plastic surgery, she points out that “most women who get breast implants have at least one serious complication within the first three years” (Zuckerman). Many things can go wrong, and if something does, the patient will most likely have to go through surgery again. Body dysmorphic disorder is also prevalent among women seeking surgery, which holds a psychological risk. Zuckerman wants young women to realize what they’re actually about to go through and to understand the full scope.

Not only are the physical and psychological risks associated with breast implants, but monetary risks exist as well. Cosmetic surgery is very expensive, and if a complication exists, a lot of women may not be able to pay for it. Zuckerman also explains the risks associated with liposuction. Most people don’t realize that there can be “infection, damage to skin, nerves or vital organs…or blood clots” that can lead to death (Zuckerman). Teens will most likely not pay attention to the risks associated with these surgeries, which is a problem since the media and “public has an inflated sense of the benefits” (Zuckerman). Overall, research is lacking in results, but the media is influencing young women on this issue, which leads to uninformed decisions.

In order to prevent these decisions from occurring, Zuckerman proposes a couple options. Effective screening is a great way to determine if a patient is ready and mature enough to transform her body. Also, research is very important in this area since studies found that body images of teens improves regardless of going through plastic surgery or not (Zuckerman). Zuckerman feels that there is not enough long-term research for teens and their parents to make informed decision about cosmetic surgery.

This article is very important to my research because it showcases that we could be encouraging uninformed decisions about plastic surgery and that benefits of cosmetic surgery are inflated, just like in the novel Uglies. Many of the presentations focused on what dystopias can teach us about our society, and this article is a great example of what Uglies teaches us about our fears and how this benefits our society. We as a society are not focusing on the major problems associated with cosmetic surgery, and Zuckerman and I both realize that this needs to be changed.

Works Cited

Zuckerman, Diana. “Teens and Cosmetic Surgery.” Our Bodies Ourselves, 6 May 2016, Accessed 22 Feb.        2017.

“Darkness Too Visible” by Meghan Cox Gurdon is an article that addresses the effects of dark content featured in Young Adult novels. Gurdon begins the article by providing a real life example of a concerned parent. The mother in this situation fears the extremely violent and dark content in a large majority of the books targeted towards her daughter’s age group. Gurdon then goes on to discuss how Young Adult novels are crude. She mentions that life is often portrayed with misery and depression, and she questions the effects of these themes on the reader. She argues that while reading a book may not necessarily make teens depressed, it certainly will have some effect on their brains. Gurdon then provides specific examples of YA novels with dark storylines. She uses several examples over time to demonstrate how the books have become more and more violent and dark over time. Gurdon then briefly discusses the argument that books such as these should not be banned. Her reasoning is that the readers could find comfort in these storylines if they have gone through something similar. However, her counterargument is that the publication of such novels normalizes dark behavior. She also discusses the fact that profanity in such storylines has been normalized over the years. She closes the article by discussing several points about book censorship and how it affects readers. She states that many librarians are against censorship as young adults should have the freedom to decide what to read.

This source provides much needed support to my argument. The author provides both a counter argument and support to my thesis. My research is about the effects of banned books and censorship on young adult readers, specifically banned dystopian novels. Dystopian novels frequently contain dark content that parents do not approve of for their children to read. I can use this source to discuss parental concerns, and also discuss the benefits they believe censorship has. In addition, I  can use the material about why censorship is bad in my argument.


Works Cited:

Gurdon, Megan Cox. “Darkness Too Visible.” The Wall Street JournalDow Jones & Company, 4 June 2011.

Virginia Tech scholars Ostenson and Scholes of The Alan Review present their publication “Understanding the Appeal of Dystopian Young Adult Fiction” as a dissection of YA dystopian literature into parts that describe and help better understand why this genre is so compelling. These scholars have observed the trend of an increasing interest in the genre, and have conducted a study to better understand which themes specific to YA dystopias compels the reader. The hope is for these trends and patterns to be understood and utilized in a way that allows for the construction of  a more interactive and interested audience in the classroom. As seen below, the survey conducted specified which themes are most prevalent in these novels which then indicated which elements were most important in order to draw in the targeted audience.

Through a thorough investigation of 16 novels, Ostenson and Scholes narrowed their research down to the most prevalent themes including inhumanity and isolation, agency and conscience, and relationships and how these relate specifically to adolescents. Teens can relate to the first of these topics in their quest to understand society through personal growth. Secondly, a protagonist’s search for their responsibility in their society relative to the greater good mirrors an adolescent’s desire to understand how and why they should function in the grand scheme of their own world. Finally, modern YA dystopian novels often include romantic or platonic relationships that interest the reader and allow them to place these novels and ideals within the realm of their own lives.
The dissection of these themes does not stand alone but is aided by Ostenson and Scholes through their inclusion of examples of these elements as seen in over eight popular YA dystopian novels. The scholars’ use of these examples makes their argument better understood and more credible. These examples from popular books in addition to the quantitative data about common dystopian themes allows for readers to easily utilize this information in arguing about the popularity of modern dystopian fiction.

For my research, I decided to look at subliminal messages and whether they are possible or not in real life, and I found that subliminal messages do not work. Thus, I decided to look into what else could cause the human mind to start thinking a certain way. While researching I came across the following video by Veritasium on truth and different ways that humans perceive information.

Derik Muller who is the creator of the video argues that information that the human mind is familiar with is more likely to be perceived as true (even if the information is false). He explains this phenomenon through the scope of cognitive ease which he describes as how hard the brain must work to perform a task, and information that has cognitive ease is less likely to be perceived as a threat, so it is more likely to be thought of as true. Muller then talks about ways that people form cognitive ease, and he explains that the easiest way to build cognitive ease is simply repeated exposure to a stimuli. I know that this talk of cognitive ease may not seem relevant to the many people who are looking at dystopias literature; however, I feel that this video actually can help those who are researching the aspect of propaganda in dystopias because I find that one aspect of propaganda is that it is constantly exposed to the masses of a dystopia. Thus, I feel that if your research is on the aspect of propaganda in dystopias, then this video can be critical for research because it can explain that the reason the majority of citizens believe the propaganda is due to the repeated exposure to it. Thus, even though I am using this video to look at the psychology of truth, I find that others may find it helpful to adapt to areas of research in propaganda.

In my research on media and communication in relation to dystopian fiction and to society today, I found a very interesting and informative source titled, “Living the Orwellian Nightmare: New Media and Digital Dystopia,” by Greg Diglin. I found it extremely helpful in uncovering some new ideas and new information for my paper, and it seems like anyone who is interested in the topic of surveillance or that of media and communication in dystopian fiction would find it highly applicable and helpful.

The basic, underlying argument that the author makes throughout the article is that many elements of George Orwell’s well-known book, 1984, can be observed in society today due to the fact that governments today are able to use new, unprecedented technologies in order to have similar powers to “Big Brother” in the dystopian novel. To elaborate upon this argument, Diglin first offers a description of the political and social conditions that 1984 emerged from, so that even someone who has not actually read the book could understand his argument. He then goes on to further his ideas through the use of events that have actually happened, as well as real organizations and people as examples of Orwellian influence in modern society. Some of these examples include the WikiLeaks Project, Edward Snowden, and real governments’ use of propaganda. He makes strong connections from the real world to the Orwellian dystopia, and successfully covers a range of issues, from surveillance, to propaganda, to netspeak, to create a very well-rounded and soundly reasoned argument. A few of his main points are that all people using new media are constantly subjected to surveillance through various government organizations, that the US government has used digital propaganda to promote warfare and influence citizens’ opinions, and that the use of the internet is leading to the breakdown of language and knowledge.

This argument is made easily coherent with the organization of the article into different sections based on those core issues of surveillance, propaganda, and destruction of knowledge, which makes it simple to find the information that you are looking for and gives it a logical flow. Overall, it’s an important source because it directly relates fact to fiction, and the dystopian world to the real world, rather than resting solely in one or the other, which makes it easy to connect them through common themes.

In a Huffington Post article entitled “Are We Addicted to the Idea of Perfection?” by Dr. Jennifer Howard, she argues that the majority of humans today are on a meaningless pursuit of perfection. The media convinces our culture that success is paralleled to a certain cookie-cutter image of perfect. It itches at our deepest insecurities and tells us that we must conform to some sort of mold. Because of this, it has become the norm to believe that we are not good enough. A recent study known as “Beauty is the Promise of Happiness” suggests that good-looking people are happier than unattractive people. From studies on economists in the US, Canada, Germany, and the UK, it concludes that attractive people make more money and have more successful love lives. This study has had a poor influence on society because it makes people want to strive to have perfect looks rather than growing their internal wisdom and improving their psychological maturity. In its simplest form, psychological maturity is the ability to make yourself happy the way you are. The article goes on to point out that despite the global economic recession, the cosmetic industry is thriving. It is unfortunate to think that people live lives believing that changing something on the outside will somehow create a lasting impression on the inside. People continue to surgically alter themselves to the point where they appear unnatural. This itself is a sign of a dystopia. Dr. Howard then brings up the question: What if we spent all of the time that we waste on fruitlessly “strengthening” our outer selves to strengthen our inner selves? After all, internal maturity is truly what will help us to withstand life’s curve balls.

Overall, this source highlights the unfortunate tendency of our culture to worship at the alter of perfection. As I analyze where different peoples’ ideas of perfection are developed from, it is important that I understand the psychological part of it. This source provides the raw truth about how our society’s priorities have evolved over time. Additionally, this research has helped me to understand why humans are addicted to perfection. Understanding this will ultimately help me to draw conclusions about how authors of dystopias derive their dystopian societies from perfect societies.

I believe that a few other students in this course would be able to benefit from the information in this article. Victoria gave her presentation about what makes dystopias so popular. I think that people wanting to read about failing societies makes them feel better about themselves. This goes back to the whole idea of desiring perfection. Additionally, I think that this article would bolster the ideas in Joshua’s presentation about YA dystopias redefining what is human. People changing their outward appearances to fit a societal mold is a sign of an unfolding dystopia. The part of the article that mentions people beginning to lose human characteristics because of their modifications is very similar to what Joshua had to say.

Works Cited:” width=”557″ height=”300

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.


How are authors of YA dystopian fiction able to captivate and entertain a young adult audience? Why, as readers, are we interested in stories about societies that are so corrupt, oppressive, and unfair? Somehow, authors of our age have been able to write novels, sequels, and even trilogies that capture the attention of the reader and can even lead to a deep or emotional investment in the novel. Through research and observations, we are able to point to multiple common themes that appear across the grid of dystopian literature that specifically target and intrigue the YA audience that is so desired. Point of view, relatability, and nonconformity are common aspects of dystopian fiction that appeal to the younger audience and allow them to become interested in the genre.

These themes are found in many contemporary dystopian novels, but are exemplified especially in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Program by Suzanne Young. First of all, both of these novels are told from the perspective of a teenager living in their own dystopian society. In the novels these protagonists are straddling childhood and adulthood and are required almost prematurely to define their role and their responsibilities in society. Adolescent readers can surely identify with these struggles and are therefore very likely to relate to and attach to these characters, following them through their journey as if it is their own.


Secondly, YA dystopian novels prove to present concepts and themes that are familiar to the reader yet slightly too far out of the reach of being realistic. Astor of the Huffington Post presents the idea that readers are interested in the corruptness of the society and misuse of governmental control because we are reading about rather than actually living through the “bad stuff” that is happening. These interesting ideologies and events can range from that of being in the hunger games arena which is seemingly more fantastical to bring put in a Program to cure depression or suicidal thoughts. Although these stories are fictional, there are elements of al dystopian novels that the reader can find parallels to in their own world.

Lastly, the adolescent characters in dystopian novels challenge authority and resist pressure to conform to societal norms or presented ideologies. This is relevant to young adult readers as youths are typically thought of as more rebellious and independent in nature. Reading novels about young characters can be empowering and can call the reader to action in their own society. Both Katniss and Sloane are examples of non conforming characters that allow readers to identify.  
In order to learn more about common themes that attract young adults to YA dystopian literature, stay tuned on the blog! More topics include that of defying gender roles, understanding movie and media publicity and its influence in the realm of literature and the relevance of romantic relationships in these novels. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you back next week.

Take a moment to imagine what life would be like without any communication with other people. Each person would become an island, isolated, with no connections to anyone else and no ability to forge connections. There would be no reason to have any of the things that we use to facilitate communication today. We would have no telephones, no internet, no newspapers, no television, no radio, no magazines, no advertisements, and no books. Furthermore, no one would talk to each other. And there would be no exchange of ideas and information. This means that we would lose the need for language, written or verbal. We would lose one of the main things that makes us who we are, that makes us fundamentally human: language. That, in and of itself, is a terrifying prospect. Because, without communication, there would be no progress as a society. Would there even be a such thing as society? It’s almost unimaginable. Dystopian fiction takes this idea of the lack of communication and uses it to play upon some of our most deeply rooted fears. By taking our current system of communication and breaking it or altering it in order to make it dysfunctional in some way, authors of dystopian novels force the readers to think about the necessity of communication and they comment upon the issues inherent in our current system of communication. This is the topic that I will be discussing in my research presentation this Friday and in my research paper. I am going to use the books that we have read in class along with my independent reading book, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black, and academic sources on the topic of communication and media to analyze how communication and dystopia combine to reveal how our system can break down and is currently breaking down. The main ways that it is failing, as revealed by the dystopian novels, are that people are questioning what sources of information are trustworthy, there are concerns about larger entities controlling information, and there is possible surveillance of private communication. So, get excited to hear my presentation, titled, “Severed Connections: The Dysfunction of Communication in Dystopian Literature.”

In dystopian novels, one issue that generally manifests itself is the issue of communication. This can happen in many ways. For example, in the book, Little Brother, the main character, Marcus wants to hold a press conference but doesn’t want to reveal his identity, so he uses a game on the Xnet as a mode of secure communication for himself. Another example is in The 100, a dystopian television show. When the ship lands on earth, all of the communication systems get broken on impact and there is no way for the teens on earth to communicate with the people still on the Ark except through bracelets that relay their vital signs. The photos show the bracelets on the characters’ wrists and the readout on the Ark. I think this theme recurs in many dystopias because for humans, communication with others is essential for survival, no matter what the time period is. Just the simple fact that our language is so complex and sophisticated, and that it is continually developing into modern modes of communication, is proof that it is absolutely necessary.






It is therefore unsurprising that this issue came to light in my independent reading book, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. The basic premise is that vampirism has become a disease and is spreading throughout the population and those that are bitten must be quarantined in what they call “Coldtowns.” The communication between the outside world and those inside the Coldtown is very unreliable and skewed by the media. Those outside the Coldtown have to rely on the news and traditional media sources in order to hear what goes on, yet these are not necessarily accurate. The main broadcast is of an endless party held in a mansion, which glamorizes life in the Coldtown, when the reality is much less than glamorous and is in fact very dangerous and difficult. The more reliable sources of information are the people in the Coldtown that have a social media presence. One specific character, Midnight, entered the Coldtown with the intention of sharing her experiences online with her followers. She makes blog posts and YouTube videos divulging the true things that happen within the walls of the quarantined city. So, social media, because it is not filtered by other people that have their own agendas, and comes directly from the source, becomes more trustworthy and honest. Even in our society today, more people than ever are relying on social media as a mode of communication and a source of reliable information.

For my research paper, I want to investigate the relationship between traditional media and social media, and their role in society and in dystopian fiction. At this point, the topic is pretty general, but I think it will get more specific as I continue to research.