For my presentation, I will be discussing the effects that Dystopian novels have in influencing the minds of their young adult readers. Ever since we’ve been analyzing dystopia from the beginning of the semester, I’ve managed to catch onto the underlying subliminal messages that Dystopian novels try to convey to young adults in many of the different novels and films we have studied. Since this is a prominent aspect of the novels that I have found interest in, I thought it would be a perfect topic for my research paper and presentation.
The role of dystopia itself is a warning. It portrays a dysfunctional society which has some sort of qualities or aspects that are akin to our own society and shows us that if we don’t fix something soon, we could end up falling into a dystopian type society similar to the one in the book. In Little Brother and Homeland, we see the dangers on a society becoming too technology oriented. In the Hunger Games, we see the rise and revolution of a nation against an unjust and overly oppressive government. In the 100, we see the problems of a government keeping information from their citizens while trying to maintain a sustainable society. All of these have some aspect which subliminally warns the reader (or viewer) about our own society and now the writers and trying to cater this to their younger readers. The writers of these books and TV shows know that the younger generation is going to be the leaders of the future and if anyone is going to be able to make a difference in our society, it will be them.
One source that has been incredibly useful has been the charts off of the article, “Understanding the Appeal of Dystopian Young Adult Fiction.” They go very in depth on what aspects are added to Dystopian novels that make them appeal to young adults and they cover a fair bit of ground, analyzing 16 different dystopian novels and seeing what major themes and elements each one has. This has been a very useful source and I’m looking forward to synthesizing it into my essay and presentation.
Scholes, Justin, and Jon Ostenson. “Understanding the Appeal of Dystopian Young Adult Fiction.” Scholarly Communication Department, Research & Informatics, Virginia Tech Libraries, Scholarly Communication, Virginia Tech University Libraries, 2013, scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/ALAN/v40n2/scholes.html. Accessed 24 Feb. 2017.
Today we started off with a discussion about the two societies present in The 100, “the ground” and “the ark.” You worked in teams to build an argument either for or against the idea that each of these societies function as a dystopia within the narrative. By engaging in an active back-and-forth debate over these two societies, we talked through some of the overarching themes of the show and examined the ways in which anarchy can be the cause of dystopian societies.
We will discuss the Darko Suvin article that you read for class today on Friday along with the Sargent article (see below).
Continue working on your research project – Annotated Bibliography due to TSquare by 11:55pm on Friday
Read Sargent’s “3 Faces of Utopia Revisited” (Available on TSquare – Resources – Week 7)
I think the most interesting thing about dystopias is what people are willing to do in order to do what is right for them or what they need to do in order to stay alive. Seeing people make these sacrifices and risks to save the ones they love or themselves truly opens your eyes to the type of people humans can be when put into certain situations. Let’s take The Summer Prince example. My independent reading is about a place ruled my queens that can serve up to two five years’ terms. Every five years, a king is chosen to take the throne for one year and then dies in a bloody sacrifice. This reminded me of the TV show the 100. In the show, people were sacrificed in order to protect the queen just like what they are doing in my book. In their minds, the queen is sacred to their people and is the leader. She knows what needs to be done because she has the power to remember her other lives. Another thing I realized is that most dystopias I have read or watched before has some type of love in it. Whether it’s between a brother and his sister, a mother and her child, or two people who will do anything for each other, love has a strong will of making people do things they never thought they could do before. An example can be Lincoln and Octavia in the show the 100. Lincoln is a grounder and Octavia is a sky crew. Their love puts them in danger with their people and yet, they still want to be together. Lincoln gave up his home and the will to live with his people to be with his beloved Octavia, even though some human does not trust him because he is a grounder. Their love is just one of many examples that most dystopias show. I believe by having that type of mood in a dystopia can make its audience seem like the film or book is more relatable and interesting.
Dystopias have a very close relationship with technology. Their synergy arises on two fronts. The first relies on complete control by a sophisticated and advanced government. Maintaining a fearful atmosphere is a key factor in keeping such technology from the public. It is also a deciding factor in shutting down revolts from the masses. In Red Queen, the elite ruling class (Silvers) subjected many to the horrible conditions of a working town. In these poverty stricken locations, regular people (Reds) are forced to work from dawn to dusk to make governmental devices. These gadgets would then never again touch citizen hands, but were used exclusively at the behest of the rulers. Reds walked cobblestone paths in villages of wood while Silvers flew airplanes from one glass city to the next. When the revolution began, the government held a distinct advantage over the freedom fighters when it came to weapons, transportation, and communication. This disparity made it very troublesome for the resistance to win its battles. But what if the two sides spar on an even playing field?
This is where a more post-apocalyptic view can be explored. The other relationship preys on the anarchy that rises up from the ashes of disaster. In a society that has been torn apart, there is a new standard on technology. It is still coveted by the strong, but the capabilities of the leftover devices are severely limited. Machines that remain operate at a much lower degree, and those who know how to use them are difficult to find. A single stroke of luck could bring power to a group if such a piece from the past is found. This contrasts with the value placed upon these rare items. Even though beforehand had much better technology, it was not as precious as the little machines that remain in a broken world. As The 100 reveals, something like a simple radio can create many different problems when it is desired by different people. But since no one actually has a superior advantage in technology, the few have an easier chance in gaining power than before.
What interests me most about this topic involves how technology is employed by both sides in a dystopia. Dystopian subjects utilize advanced machines or the leftovers from days long past to a devastating effect in their respective time periods. I am curious as to how the rulers of a dystopia control the masses by limiting their access to technology and advancement. Our society is ever changing, evolving with new forms of thought and innovation. Indeed, one of the fastest growing sectors of our lives involves technology. So what happens when the pace of machine creation stagnates? Or on the other hand, what happens when it advances at a speed outside our control? We will only know what the future holds with time. But whether a dystopia arises with a controlling machine monopoly or from some artificial intelligence that enslaves us all, it is only certain that technology will achieve new heights in the years to come.
Today in class we looked over some generalized feedback based on my midterm assessment. We talked through some important distinctions in dystopian theory and I reiterated some key elements of success for blog posts, in-class participation and Twitter participation. I encourage you to look over your feedback on TSquare (Gradebook-Comments on Twitter & Participation assignment) and assess what you need to do in order to improve for the second half of the semester.
We followed this discussion with a reflection exercise, first looking at your infographic assignment, then looking at the class as a whole. These reflections should be filed away in your folder for the end of the semester portfolio.
We talked briefly about the idea of apocalypse and what post-apocalyptic literature looks like and used the Knickerbocker essay to ground our discussion of apocalypse. We emphasized the Biblical origins of the apocalyptic narrative and its relation to dystopia and utopia, as both a literary device and a part of the evolution process of society.
We moved on to talk about The 100. In small groups, you worked to identify the key defining elements of both The Ground and The Arc as dystopian societies and post-apocalyptic societies. We will start next class by looking at these charts and arguing for whether The 100 is a dystopian story with elements of post-apocalypse or a post-apocalyptic narrative with some elements of dystopia. We’ll also look at your Twitter discussion questions and discuss the show in more depth.