young adult literature

All posts tagged young adult literature

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!

 

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.”

 

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.

 

 

Dystopian Literature is becoming an increasingly prominent staple of the reading community, but what is the reason for this exactly? A dystopian novel may choose a negative aspect of a current society and utilize it as the causation for the setting to be dystopian, but I believe the purpose of Dystopian Literature goes far beyond this. Modern dystopia, and specifically young adult dystopia, has become an increasing popular conduit for authors to convey the problems associated with our society and allow the readers to think and develop their own ideas on what should be done.

In Homeland, Cory Doctorow’s sequel to Little Brother, the story is set in San Francisco in the years following terrorist attacks that happened in the previous story (Little Brother). The root of my argument stems from the story of Little Brother and transitions into Homeland. Throughout Little Brother, we are constantly reminded of the dangers of an increasingly digitalized world, where an influx of data is kept on record by the government, and is available to those who are smart enough to get past whatever security was put in place. I believe this issue was raised, not just as a plot point, but also to show the young adults reading, that this is potentially where we are headed as a society. We are becoming increasingly digitalized and the possibilities of this are limitless, but there is a high potential for abuse of this, whether from an overbearing government or extremely crafty hackers thinking what they are doing is for the right cause (I’m not saying what the hackers in the book did was right or wrong. That argument is for another time). Early on in Homeland, Marcus is given the opportunity to work for a politician along with being given information about the government that could bring them (the government) a lot of troubles. Much of the story is focuses on the moral dilemma of whether Marcus should release this information. Where Little Brother focuses on a course of action if problems do arise with an increasingly tech based society, Homeland serves more to convey how we should implement such a society. How do we make decisions about what information is public and what is private? These books aren’t just written to tell an interesting story of a digitalized society, but to show the readers that we could potentially become like this. We are, as a society, progressing in this direction, and if we don’t deal with it correctly, we could become the dystopian society shown in these two books.

From my perspective, a utopia is a setting where everyone is equal. A place where everything is “perfect.” When I was younger, I used to be excited thinking that this was achievable. However, as I started growing up, each story I read about a utopia had one thing in common; they never worked out. For example, in the book The Giver, Everything started off well, but at the end the perfect society failed. Additionally, in a utopia, someone has to be in control. There has to be a leader or an oligarchy that is behind the scenes to make sure everyone is in their right place. Also, they have to control what the people know to make sure that one person is not smarter than the next. The moment that happens, whoever is in control automatically, makes him/herself better off than the population which makes the utopia “not perfect.” For example, in the movie The Divergent, everyone was equal, but there was a government that made sure there were rules and that the people abided by it. Consequently, just like The Giver, The society failed.

Generally, I like when the idea of a Utopia is combined with action, because it often physically depicts how the people will rebel against the government. Action has always been one of my favorite genres, so adding the utopian idea makes the whole concept that more interesting for me. As far as the Young Adult genre, it changes the way utopian societies are portrayed. As a young adult, I look for more a thrill when reading. So if I was an author, if I wanted to write a book about utopias for young adults, I would make it more fun and interesting to attract my audience. A book like The Hunger Games is a great example of a piece of literature that best fits a young adult.

Webster defines a utopia as either a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions or an impractical scheme for social improvement. A dystopia, oversimplified to the extreme is a failed Utopia.

The mix of dystopian characteristics with other genres, such as, science fiction, romance, apocalypse, young adult, or any other do not work to diminish it as a genre. Each of these subgenres instead acts to expand dystopian characteristics. In the Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature, we look at the evolution of Utopian literature. The definition throughout it’s beginning with Thomas’s “No Place” has expanded to our perfect, advanced, futuristic society with unknown faults.

That being said, it is very easy to confuse dystopian literature with science fiction. They share some key characteristics: overly powerful governments, awesome technology, and the tendency to take place in the future. The constant overlap does not merge them into one genre however. Most dystopian novels may be science fiction but not every science fiction book is utopian.

Typically, in a Young Adult dystopian novel, we are introduced to a hero or heroine who is chaffing against the constraints of their too-strict , but otherwise ideal society. After their coming of age and joining the ranks of the society they live in, the protagonist then discovers some dark secret that makes them realize that their Utopia is in fact a dystopia and somehow they bring about it’s destruction.

The success of the YA dystopian genre can be attributed to it’s target group of 12-24. This is the group that identifies most with the want of rebellion. We emphasize with the lack of control the characters feel in their strict societies and when the protagonist takes the chance to rebel against their oppressors, we are empowered through. The message is sent to us that we, as young adults, can make the change we want in the world. This is especially important because we will be the architects of the future. This holds with the trend of Utopian writing being a warning.

 

Works Cited-

The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature. Edited by Claeys, Gregory, Cambridge University Press, 2010.

“Merriam-Webster.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystopia.

 

 

Dystopia is a form of literature that has a definition that’s often confused with that of utopia, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, etc. Dystopia is different than all of these listed, kind of. If you google the definition of dystopia, it says dystopia is a noun: “a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.” This definition is entirely negative, and has nothing that could be considered optimistic. Dystopias are not happy places. That is a fact. But, from different points of view, what some consider a dystopia might actually be a utopia to others. A utopia is “an ideal place or state.” While dystopias and utopias are virtually opposites of one another, the people in power would view a world where they hold totalitarian control as a utopia, while the poor, starving, and miserable citizens of this very same world view their nation as a dystopia. Point of view matters.

Image result for dystopia vs utopia 

The genres of post-apocalyptic, science fiction, horror, etc. are easily confused with dystopias because they are all sub-genres of dystopian literature. The difference is in the details with these genres, as post-apocalyptic comes after a world ending event, science fiction is more unreal situations, etc. Dystopian literature implies problems with our world today because of how realistic the dystopian society is portrayed. The characters have normal problems that we have today, and the literature is attempting to warn us of what could happen in the future. While these genres are different from dystopias, they are often combined in YA literature. I read a lot of post-apocalyptic, science fiction, and dystopian literature and it all blends together in my head because of how similar the genres are to one another. The difference is in how realistic dystopian societies are to our present one and how sometimes they even parallel one another in environmental, social, or political conflicts. Including all these other genres in the general definition of dystopia changes it a little bit.

Dystopian literature includes stories that are almost completely controlled by one government-like power that took control after a disastrous event and has attempted to rid the world of previous problems. When put into YA literature, the dystopias try to capture the problems of young adults and how they overcome what the higher powers have been forcing upon them. Most dystopias I think of are YA literature, I’m sure you can name a few.

 

 

Works Cited:

  1. “dystopia”. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 23 Jan. 2017. <Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/browse/dystopia>
  2. “utopia”. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 23 Jan. 2017. <Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/browse/utopia>
  3. “Utopia Vs. Dystopia – Lessons .” TES Teach with Blendspace, TES Teach, 21 Jan. 2015, www.tes.com/lessons/IqvoCi7f3FbUWg/21jan2015-utopia-vs-dystopia.
  4. “Young Adult Dystopian Novels……..How Do I Analyze Them??” Let’Slearnwithfun, WordPress, 3 July 2015, letslearnwithfun.wordpress.com/2015/07/03/young-adult-dystopian-novels-how-do-i-analyze-them/.

The terms ‘utopia’, and especially in the past few years, ‘dystopia’, have been come almost buzzwords of American literary culture due to the genre’s sudden popularity in young adult (YA) fiction and the global success of The Hunger Games series. However, by no means are utopias and dystopias a modern age phenomenon. Man has always been fascinated by reaching an ideal state or community. Utopias date back to ancient Greece and Plato’s “Republic” and his philosophical discourse on how he envisioned the ideal society would run, but by no means did Plato refer to it as an “utopia” because the word was not coined until 1516 when Thomas Moore wrote Utopia. The word utopia is Greek, stands for “non-place” and hints at the reality that the perfect society or state of government cannot be achieved. Throughout history, authors saw this as a basis for utilizing Utopian Literature as satires for criticizing contemporary society and bureaucratic struggles. Just as a man’s heart reflects his life, so is utopian literature used to reflect the essence of society.

A utopian story was considered to be a ‘dystopia’ if readers were meant to perceive the described society as inherently much worse than the one that they were living in. Author’s utilized Dystopian Literature as forewarnings of the dangerous direction society is headed in, and the times to come. Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four are as Gregory Claeys put it, warnings of “the quasi-omnipotence of a monolithic, totalitarian state demanding and normally exacting complete obedience from its citizens… relying upon scientific and technological advances to ensure social control (Claeys 109).

The heavy influence and almost saturation of the modern day YA Fiction genre by dystopian works is vital to understanding the authorial critiques of today’s culture. The best way to teach someone something new is when they are young. The adolescent stage is an important stage of one’s life because that is when they become aware of the dangers, joys, successes, and short comings of contemporary society. They are able to formulate their own opinions about right and wrong, and what should be done about the challenges our society faces each day.

If authors want to see change, or leave society in good hands when they pass, then gearing their satirical works toward the post millennial generation is the prefect strategy. As their readers grow up to become the next politicians, public figures, and business leaders of the world, the themes they read about, and characters they looked up to, will still be playing in the backs of their minds and will influence the decisions they make, which will have lasting ramifications for years to come. And honestly, in an egocentric, consumeristic, and secular culture, may the odds be ever in our favor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited:

Claeys, Gregory, editor. The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature. Cambridge, 2010.

picture: http://chapterbreak.net/2016/06/23/whatbooks-taught-us-apocalypse/

As a middle school student, I came across dystopian fiction pretty early in my numerous visits to the public library, and read all of the novels that I could get my hands on. For some reason, these books were fascinating to me, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on the reason why. Nonetheless, I kept going back to the library to find the newest releases of these books, usually set sometime in the future, with drastic circumstances that the main character must overcome in order to save themselves and their loved ones. I plowed through The Hunger Games, The Giver, Wither, Divergent, and so many more. At that point, I wasn’t quite sure what exactly dystopias were, I just knew they were extremely interesting. Now I have a more solid definition of what it is and how young adults are drawn to it. Dystopian novels are books in which the setting is defined by a society that is inherently flawed in some way that makes life unpleasant for the occupants and the main character has to deal with these issues and overcome them. For example, in The Hunger Games, society is broken up into twelve districts after a revolution and the corrupt government forces twenty-four teens to fight to the death annually and the main character has to fight in the games, which allows her to rebel against the government. Every dystopian book has some version of this struggle. I think that these books are so appealing to the young adult audience because the main character of books is generally of a similar age and is highly relatable. This allows the reader to put themselves in the shoes of the character and feel personally involved in the story, making it a more interesting read. The main character in Divergent, Tris, is sixteen years old, which makes the story more relatable to young people. If she was a middle aged woman, the story would definitely not have the same draw. Not only the age appeal, but also the fact that these books allow the audience to contemplate larger problems like politics and social issues and form opinions for themselves rather than learning about these things from dry textbooks and in class makes them more interesting. Overall, I now have a better understanding of what a dystopia is and why I enjoyed reading these books when I was younger and why they continue to appeal to me.