Check out my Vlog on The Hunger Games and how it made me think differently about society in America!
My conference paper focuses on propaganda in dystopian novels and the various ways it leads us as the audience to connect to the characters on a deeper level. I include my own definition of what propaganda can be emphasizing the point that it can be considered any form of information that is intended to create a bias or mislead the audience into believing that one side of an argument or point of view is the right one. To do this, I use the research already done by notable author and thinker Jacques Ellul. Ellul is the author of the book “Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes” which has been cited in a great number of propaganda studies since the years of its publication. In his book, Ellul describes eight different types of propaganda: political, sociological, agitation, integration, vertical, horizontal, irrational, and rational. In my presentation I focus mainly on Ellul’s category of political propaganda and how it is depicted in dystopian novels, and how it causes the audience to think. In addition, for my research purposes, I have expanded on Ellul’s classification to add the category of pure emotional propaganda which I feel is necessary when talking about propaganda shown in dystopian novels, and perhaps more easily in movies based of off dystopian novels, specifically the movies based off of The Hunger Games books written by Suzanne Collins and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
In The Hunger Games, I chose to focus on the propaganda shown through the actions of Peeta and Katniss and their fake relationship. My definition of propaganda as any information used to mislead an audience comes into play here as most people wouldn’t consider the act as one of mainstream propaganda and instead would focus on the propos shot by the rebellion and the Capitol’s response in the later books/movies.
In Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, both by Orson Scott Card, I choose to focus more on the mainstream propaganda shown through the elevation of Battle School as a prestigious school only for those worthy of it and the unification of the Earth (examples shown below) through vertical, horizontal, and emotional propaganda and how it affects the minds of the characters in the novels and of the audience.
Throughout my presentation I will make many references to subliminal messaging and subconscious thought, as it is of great impact to my research. As proven my many notable sources, when the brain sees something it will store information about it for later when that information is needed which oftentimes leads to feelings of déjà vu. However, in my case it makes the greatest impact through emotional propaganda, as the audience will feel various emotions ranging from sympathy to hatred depending on the propaganda in novels and movies they are exposed to, and the fact that they see or read this propaganda will help it stick in the mind and ultimately create an emotional reaction to the characters experiences in the novels or movies themselves which can lead to a stronger emotional bond to the characters themselves.
I saw this research paper as the perfect opportunity to communicate an issue that I think has been plaguing society. Since the rise of modern technology there has been a lack of importance placed on literature. The presence of a generation that remains more updated than ever, through social media, puts pressure on authors (and artists, etc.) to produce content more quickly. I hypothesize that this pressure results in authors falling back on “cheap” ways to get readers, instead of focusing on the “moral” aspect of the story.
Even though teens today have plenty of other things to influence and educate them, such as twitter, video games, and various new channels, YA literature remains one of the most useful tools for challenging the mind of the youth. Quickly produced and ill-thought out books might still achieve the goal of entertaining the reader, however these novels should be fully utilized by leaving the reader with questions or conclusions about life and society. This is especially true for dystopian novels, as they are the most effective in jump-starting a reader into action, often through fear.
However, this is not the fault of the ever-blamed millennials. Studies show that millennials are the most motivated generation, they have a higher “sense of purpose” than other generations, and are the largest advocates for social change. So why is there a gap between the desires of this young generation and the content produced for them? This is one of many questions my paper aims to answer.
My inspiration for this paper came out of researching some of my favorite novels, such as Brave New World, Lord of the Flies, and The Hunger Games, which are so morbid and abstract that I wondered how where the authors got their inspiration. I did some digging, and uncovered that almost every dystopian novel author came up with their idea because of a social injustice they wished to change.
My independent reading book, Uglies fits between the modern YA dystopia mold, and the “meaningful” dystopias. Uglies features a 16 year old girl as the main character with several love interests. The novel (arguably) is a part of a trilogy, is written in simple language, and was considered for a movie. These are components of a basic, money-making dystopia. However, it certainly left me wondering about the importance I place on my appearance. The author, Scott Westerfeld, explained “that his point in writing the book was not to make a big commentary on the issues with beauty, but to make people aware of the culture of retouching that is developing in the world and to be aware of our own ideas about beauty and our need to think for ourselves”.
Uglies should be a model to YA authors around the world. Dystopian novels can play into cliches, and get readers, while still having meaning.
Authors and Society: stop measuring the success of a novel by how much money the movie adaption made, and instead by the number of lives it impacted.
I will be presenting my research for the conference presentation on Friday, titled “Corporations, the Media, and Propaganda: A Modern Day Dystopia?” I will be discussing the influence and power of corporations, the media, and propaganda in today’s world and how they reflect a modern day dystopia. I will use my independent reading novel Champion by Marie Lu (as well as the other books in her series) and The Hunger Games to provide examples and support to my claims.
This presentation is one that you won’t want to miss, because I will be discussing real problems that are going on in our world. These are the sorts of problems that you read about in dystopias, but that most people do not realize are actually happening in real life! For example, did you know that in the past, big fossil fuel companies paid the US Chamber of Commerce to block energy reforms?! Big corporations and the government have become so heavily intertwined that we often don’t realize it!
In my presentation, I will continue to discuss how big corporations have gained so much power in our world, and how they control many aspects of our society. These points will be exemplified by the fictional corporations in Champion and The Hunger Games and how they had a lot of power. I will show the reflection of power in the real world by presenting what I have found about big corporations today.
For my other point I will be discussing the media and propaganda, how they go hand-in-hand, and how they hold great influence over our society as well. Once again this will be exemplified by the media and propaganda in Champion and The Hunger Games. Then I will discuss how the media has taken over our own lives with propaganda that we don’t always recognize.
We need to be fully aware of what is going on in our world, and how we have tip-toed into becoming a dystopia. My presentation touches on this issue, and therefore it is one you will not want to miss!
As an architecture major I am fascinated with the way buildings make people feel. In my studio class, my professor is constantly reinforcing the idea that the building is designed to fit a function. I began to wonder if there was a greater meaning behind the buildings that are present in YA dystopian novels. Upon closer investigation, I found that the buildings that housed the government or controlling figure turned out to be much more grand and comfortable than those of the oppressed people who seem to be living in some state of poverty. From there I began to wonder if there was some correlation between architecture an oppression. Does architecture prevent rebellions? Does architecture create a hierarchy? Does architecture reinforce existing orders?
My presentation is titled, “Architorture: The Implications of Dystopian Architecture”. Throughout my presentation, I will be discussing how architecture can lead to oppression or promote freedom. We’ve all been in a building that has maybe made us felt trapped or uncomfortable. In addition, we have all been in a building that we have never wanted to leave. Whether we notice it or not buildings have a significant impact on a person’s emotions. I believe the emotion that is present in architecture is used to the authors advantage throughout YA dystopian novels.
To further my argument, I will analyze the YA dystopian novels How I Live Now and The Hunger Games to describe how architecture influences the oppression inflicted on the characters throughout YA dystopian novels. When discussing How I Live Now I will be talking about how the levels of oppression change as the surrounding architecture changes. In How I Live Now the kids went through a period when the military took occupation of their home leaving them in a much more vulnerable space. A similar situation happened in an article I read called, What American Cities can learn from Small-Town Neighbors, that discusses the implications of the government interfering in a rural town. This will provide me valuable information to explain how the presence of architecture can be controlled by the government and ultimately lead to a state of oppression. When I discuss The Hunger Games, I will be talking about how architecture can show social hierarchies in society, and I will discuss how the capitol used architecture to prevent rebellions.
Overall, my paper will work to prove that architecture has major impacts throughout the course of a YA dystopian novel.
Arentson, James. “What American Cities can learn from Small-Town Neighbors.” Next City, 17 Feb. 2017, https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/what-american-cities-can-learn-from-small-town-neighbors
Throughout this semester, we’ve been reading and discussing countless elements of Young Adult Dystopian literature, from timelines, to love stories, scientific advancement, and so on; but, have we ever stopped to ask why specifically young adult literature? Is there something special about these characters that defines an entirely different genre? In my conference presentation and research paper, I’ll be discussing why young adults have acted as powerful enough characters to make this genre as popular and profitable as it is.
As visible in this graphic, following the publication of The Hunger Games in 2008, the percentage of literature with a dystopian theme skyrocketed, many of the most popular of these publications containing young adult characters, such as M.T. Anderson’s Feed, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent. These stories showcase young adults, which I’ll refer to as 15-24-year-olds, facing similar problems and pressures to what we face in our everyday lives. They fight for what they believe in in a world that is different, yet not completely unrecognizable from ours OR impossible for ours to become. What draws such a connection between these characters and audiences of all ages are the relatable aspects of life that readers can relate to through their youth, and how relevant many of the issues the characters face are to the youth population today.
One interesting aspect of young adult literature that I want to elaborate on in my argument is how intensely the following of such a relatable character can influence trends in the genre. For example, the Divergent series was profitable enough to be turned into a movie, even though critics speculate that the book’s plot was so poor that it must’ve been written merely for money-making purposes (Dean, 48-49). This book wouldn’t have been able to connect to so many people had they not become attached to the main character and the challenges she faces, and even though it was not necessarily critically acclaimed, it did its job of connecting to people of all ages through a young character. My presentation is not a case study on Divergent, however, but rather it is a study of how characters similar to those in the aforementioned texts are shaped around their environments to become characters that everybody seems to want to read about.
Brown, Patrick. “The Dystopian Timeline to The Hunger Games [INFOGRAPHIC].”Goodreads. Goodreads Inc., 21 Mar. 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.
Dean, Michelle. “Our Young-Adult Dystopia.” New York Times Magazine, Feb 02 2014, pp. 48-49. New York Times; ProQuest Central; ProQuest Newsstand; Research Library, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/1495412558?accountid=11107.
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,www.business2community.com/strategy/pulling-off-the-perfect-conference-presentation-0237 170#ja8odJQiywP6Fpj1.97. Accessed 4 Mar.2017.
What interests me about dystopian novels is their tendency to create worlds in which people are controlled by technology intended to help them. It’s similar to the common science fiction trope of a robot revolution, but the fact that a small group of humans is behind the machines makes it more realistic and possibly more frightening. These technologies range from simple surveillance tools like cameras (and the software necessary to filter through all the information for anything relevant) to augmented realities in the most extreme cases which allow those with the authority to directly observe and change the worlds in which their users live. For my independent reading novel, Under the Never Sky, the latter is used to allow large amounts of people, known as the Dwellers, to live in a small space, while spending most of their attention and time in virtual realms created and monitored by the government.
Even more interesting is the tendency of these novels to antagonize technology completely and have their protagonists revert to more primitive ways of life. In my experience, Marcus in Little Brother is the only protagonist I’ve seen try to use primarily technology to fight back against a dystopian government. Bows and blades are much more commonly used by protagonists, even in worlds where hovercrafts and other advanced war technologies dominate battlefields which is the case in Under the Never Sky. In this novel, the post-apocalyptic world outside of the pods in which the Dwellers live is ruined by war and Aether storms that set the ground ablaze. Savages and cannibals roam the lands unclaimed by tribes, and extreme mutations are not uncommon, yet the reader still gets the sense that this natural way of life is better than the artificial one in the Realms. To emphasize this, mutations in the novel often amplify human senses to superhuman levels, giving the author an excuse to explain how sensuously rich the real world is compared to any artificial one. I wonder why authors so often write stories that seem to suggest that primitive lifestyles are better than the lifestyles permeated with technology that we’re headed towards, rather than stories that show how we can fight to keep our rights as technology inevitably develops further which I believe Doctorow does very well in Little Brother.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic, 2008.
Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. Tom Doherty Associates, 2008.
Rossi, Veronica. Under the Never Sky. Harper Collins, 2012.