“‘But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.’
“In fact,’ said Mustapha Mond, ‘you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.’
‘All right then,’ said the Savage defiantly, ‘I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.’
‘Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.’ There was a long silence.
‘I claim them all,’ said the Savage at last.” (Brave New World)
Human history is littered with examples of man seeking happiness, often at any expense. For centuries, mankind has looked upon itself and its own glory, while constantly seeking betterment through the pursuit of art, music, literature, travel, religion, philosophy, math, reason, and science. From the ancient Greek philosophers, to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, to the Dark Ages, to the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment, to the Industrial Revolution and now, to the current Digital Age, and all of the movements in between, humanity has always looked with hopeful eyes to the Next Big Thing, the Thing that will cause societal waves and ultimately better the world.
However, in the midst of all the aforementioned hope and grandeur, history is also littered with examples of the evils of mankind, with some of the worst examples leading to catastrophic pain and despair. War, death, plagues, injustice, and evil of all forms have been littered throughout the human experience. In such instances, the natural response is to question the idea of goodness and to fight back and, thus, the concept of the hero was birthed– a character, a superman, who could step in and make things right by fighting against the evil, and embodying the concept of good.
For as long as there has been human history, there has been a battle between good and evil. This is no better exemplified than in our literature where the “good guys” are found to be relatable due to some identifiable element of humanity, whether they are actually human, have a compassion toward the human race, or have a familiar human weakness. Even the Greek and Roman gods, who were said to stand above all human affairs, had vices familiar to the people who worshiped them, and which endear them readers even now. The concept of the hero was most famously explored in Joseph Campbell’s famous work, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, and many times more by scholars who remain fascinated by mankind’s interest in the greats among us. In a similar sense, the “bad guys” of human history have been found to have a sinister relatability to a human audience Even when a story’s villain is otherworldly, they often have motives that are uncomfortably familiar, such as fame, power, control, or money
For a long time, the many iterations of good and evil seemed to be enough to sate the minds of reader but, more recently, it appears that this battle has grown closer to home, and people are no longer comfortable hoping for good in the shape of some fictional superman. Superman is no longer enough to fight against the evils that are unexpectedly rising. Nowadays, our stories are littered with dystopian worlds, reminiscent of our own, where the best ending one might hope for is not “happily ever after,” but the return to normalcy.
For much of human history, the world progressed at a reasonable pace and even with the dawn of new inventions and movements, people were able to take life in stride. However, in the quickly progressing Digital Age, it has become more and more difficult to separate fact from fiction in a time when “wrongthink” has become more of a thinkpiece headline, and less of an Orwellian nightmare. When Orwell wrote 1984, he wrote it in response to fears of totalitarian control, like that of Hitler and Stalin and Stalin, without any real idea that the technology he imagined would one day not only exist, but be commonplace. Orwell didn’t invent facial recognition software, but it is interesting to consider how he might feel if he knew it became a reality.
Since Orwell’s time, societal concerns have reached a point where storytellers fear that humanity is no longer enough to combat humanity, and we have moved into an age where writers have begun to imagine that we need something greater than ourselves to govern mankind. Considering that the purported problem with mankind is mankind, the next logical step is to look toward technology, and this is not just one step, but many steps that have built up over the years, according to scholar N. Katherine Hayles. In Hayle’s work, How We Became Posthuman, she analyzes the steps society has taken to inch away from the concept of humanity, with transhumanism being the link, and a posthuman society being the goal. The new popular thought is that if society takes the “man” out of “human,” life might stand a fighting chance. If we look toward the idea of a technologically dictated society, a society where humans have been transformed through technological means, some of the problems that history has faced might be eradicated.
However, this theory has one fatal flaw, and that flaw is the dismissal of humanity and the idea of personhood. Despite the problems humanity has caused, it is foolish and reductive to dismiss the entirety of good human history, because of the marginally less evil that has been caused. The idea of posthumanism scraps all of the good of mankind, along with the bad, and is as dangerous as it is unrealistic. This idea is discussed extensively by Christina Bieber Lake in her work, Prophets of the Posthuman. Lake argues that the concept of personhood is incompatible with the idea of a posthuman world, and the dangers of dabbling with transhumanism raise similar concerns. Ultimately, the problem at hand is the same as it has always been, not humanity on the whole, but bad people. Technology is not capable of dictating justice, as will be seen in the works explored in this paper. Ultimately personhood is mankind’s saving grace.
In the digitally connected society that has risen within the past thirty years, it is not unreasonable that our literature reflects the idea of technology as a societal cure-all. In many of the works that I will explore in this paper, some horrific past catalyst has lead the fictional, and uncomfortably familiar, society into its present technological age. In Uglies, this catalyst is war, stemming from human greed. In The Adoration of Jenna Fox, the catalyst is misdirected love. In Feed, the catalyst is consumerism. In all of these examples, technology has been implemented for the sake of bettering human existence, but does so by taking the “human” out of humanity. By adopting transhumanism as a cure-all for the sins of mankind, it is hoped that technology will push the worlds into a better future. The underlying intent starts off as pure but, as long as there is technology in a relatively realistic setting, there must be an overseer who controls according to his or her own whims. As long as a human is still in control, there is still room for human error and, as is seen, human evil. Much like Snow White biting into the poisoned apple, the allure of technological advancement is tantalizing, but in all of the examples that I will cite, it ultimately makes a flawed society worse.
Throughout history, and throughout the first several paragraphs of this paper, there has been much talk of “mankind” but, interestingly, the word “man” overshoots the demographic that I have chosen to argue for in this work. The concept of dystopia was littered throughout the twentieth century with works like 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and A Clockwork Orange, but boomed in popularity in the late twentieth in young adult literature. The boom is generally thought to have started in 1993 with Lois Lowry’s The Giver, and followed by works such as The City of Ember (2003), Uglies (2005), The Maze Runner (2009), The Hunger Games (2008), Divergent (2011), Feed, Life As We Knew It (2006), The Adoration of Jenna Fox (2008), and one notable outlier, Ender’s Game, published in 1985. The teenage demographic lends an interesting scope to the discussion of technological control in dystopian society, because the goal of a new world order is generally formed in reaction against past experience. Usually, responsibility falls to the next generation to be better than, and learn from the mistakes of, past generations, but an overarching theme in the aforementioned works is technological control which strips youth of the privilege of deciding for themselves. In the hope of creating a better future, one generation has restricted the freedom of the next. In such a society, there is no place for youth and coming of age, there is only control.
By denying future generations the right to create their own world, those who have sought to eliminate “bad guys” have themselves become villains. In attempting to turn away from the mistakes of the past, society has also turned away from the aspects of humanity that led to the great achievements and heroics that built it. No human is without flaw, and those in charge of a technologically driven society are still bound by the temptations that have haunted mankind since the dawn of time. In struggling with and fighting against the transhuman society into which they have been born, teenage heroes recognize the value in humanity, with all the good and bad that comes with it, because they realize that the essence of life exists in freedom to choose one’s own path, no matter the consequences.
- Title Page
- How did we get here?
- Childhood and the future
- Thesis Statement
- Difference between trans and posthumanism
- Impossibility of posthumanism
- The hope and failure of transhuman ideology
- Utopia is impossible
- Technology is not bad; control is
- Man cannot build the perfect man
- Morality of transhumanism
- Ethics of personhood
- What is humanity?
- The young hero
- The importance of children to the future
- They must build their own world
- The importance of freedom and choice
- The books
- Uglies series: The question of betterment
- Extras: The question of “what comes next”?
- The Adoration of Jenna Fox: The question of morality and choice
- Ender’s Game: The question of rights and choice
- Feed: ***going to reread over break***
- The hope and failure of transhuman ideology
- Title Page
- 8. Discussion
- 9. Conclusion
- 10. Annotated Bibliography
Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatives. Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 1999. Print
I have chosen this book because N. Katherine Hayles is one of the leading voices in the field of transhuman and posthuman scholarship. Almost all of my other sources refer back to her and, in exploring her work, I believe that her research is important to my understanding and argument against transhumanism. Although the book largely consists of discussion on the scientific components of the field, she ties in literary allusions throughout her discussion. It will be interesting for me to use this book in connection with a younger audience. Although the book discusses posthumanism, the word “Became” in the title is key to my purposes. The road to posthumanism is the same road traveled by transhumanism and, in understanding the process leading to posthumanism, I will be able to build a case against it.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Princeton: Princeton University Press: 1949. Print.
In my thesis, I will be discussing the role of the hero in young adult dystopian societies and there is no greater resource than the most well known book on the topic: Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Campbell writes on the topic of heroism throughout history, and discusses how people have always looked at certain characteristics and deemed them worthy of glorification. Some of these characteristics include physical strength, courage, leadership, physical attractiveness, and intelligence. I have found that elements of Campbell’s thought connect well with my idea of the new hero– the human teenager fighting to restore reason back to his or her technologically driven world. As the title suggests, the archetypal hero wears many different masks, and I believe that this exploration will lend itself to my study of heroes written more than fifty years after his work was published.
Fukuyama, Francis. Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. New York: Faar, Straus and Giroux: 2002. Print.
Fukuyama’s work is particularly important to my thesis, because of his discussion of the implications of technological progress on humanity. Fukuyama presents a unique approach among my sources, as he grounds his discussion in the exploration of mankind’s history. He writes about the progression of human nature from scholarship of the Greek philosophers, to the current day trends toward technological takeover, and extensively discusses the meaning of humanity in the face of such threats. I have found Fukuyama’s writing to be fascinating, and am planning on using him as one of the leading scholars in my work.
Roden, David. Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human. New York: Routledge: 2015. Print.
This book provides an exploration of posthumanism, which is a topic that I will be establishing as realistically impossible, and should be relegated to science fiction novels. My focus on transhumanism is intentional, as I think that it is realistic that mankind may meld technology and humanity, but firmly believe that a complete overthrow is unlikely. That being said, I am interested in Roden’s approach because the path to posthumanism is paved by transhumanism, which introduces similar issues. Roden argues that posthumanism is problematic because technology will never be able to delegate subjectivity or morality in the same way that a human being can. He purports that speculative posthumanism is a topic worthy of study, but that powerful technology should be approached with adequate foreboding.
Flanagan, Victoria. Technology and Identity in Young Adult Fiction: The Posthuman Subject. New York: Palgrave Macmillan: 2014. Print.
Victoria Flanagan’s work presents an interesting juxtaposition against the ideas I will be exploring in my work. Although we have read and analyzed the same books, Flanagan encourages her readers to approach trans and posthumanism worlds with open minds, and argues that embracing technological means may open society to a new understanding of humanity. While I agree that people should not be instantly critical and suspicious of technology, I disagree with Flanagan’s connections between anti-tech dystopian literature and the struggles of children navigating the Digital Age. On the contrary, I would argue that technology is the distinct cause of Although the correlations that children’s problems. Although the correlations that she highlights are interesting, I find them to be a stretch, at best. This being said, I appreciate that by encountering and citing Flanagan, I am able see another side to my argument that I would not have otherwise considered.
Cole-Turner, Ronald. Transhumanism and Transcendence: Christian Hope in an Age of Technological Enchancement. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press: 2011. Print.
I have not yet decided if I am going to touch upon the theme of Christianity in my thesis but, by nature of my personality and beliefs, the topic tends to slip in whether I intend for it to, or not. In my search for sources, I came across this compilation of essays which offer a wealth of discussion of the moral implications of transhumanism. David Roden, cited above, speaks on the issue of morality in a posthuman world, and I believe that some of the essays in this collection respond well to that concern. Additionally, the topic of technological takeover raises the question of agency and freedom in my chosen heroes’ lives, which is a question that must be approached through the lens of morality. I’m not sure how relevant this text will be to my work, but I plan on further exploring it.
Waters, Brent. From Human to Posthuman: Christian Theology and Technology in a Postmodern World. Burlington: Ashgate: 2006. Print.
Much like the above cited work, I am not sure how much of a role that religious discussion will play in my thesis work, but this source stood out to me due to Water’s discussion of humanism in the modern technological world. Part of my paper will be dedicated to a “How did we get to this point?” section, and a firmly sourced understanding of the history of humanism is crucial. I believe that this work may play an important part in that section.
Bieber Lake, Christina. Prophets of the Posthuman: American Fiction, Biotechnology, and the Ethics of Personhood. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press: 2013. Print.
A topic that I will be exploring throughout my work is the concept of humanity and personhood. What does it mean to be human and, specifically, what does it mean to be human in a world where the line defining humanity is increasingly gray? Lake is another notable scholar who has explored the field of trans and posthumanism, and uses this book’s platform to examine the idea of personhood through the lens of the great writers of history, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Flannery O’Connor, Toni Morrison, and Margaret Atwood. Lake does not believe that the traditionally defined concept of personhood can be applied to a posthuman society, and I am interested to use her scholarship in drawing my own conclusion as to the ole of the young adult hero in such worlds.
Hintz, Carrie, Balaka Basu and Katherine R. Broad. Contemporary Dystopian Fiction for Young Adults: Brave New Teenagers. New York: Routledge: 2013. Print.
This is one of few works that I have found which explicitly speaks to the young adult dystopian world. It is helpful to see how other writers have treated the topic, and this source was particularly helpful for finding other works that I may explore through my work. I am not yet sure if I am going to address Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games or Veronica Roth’s Divergent series in my work, but the essays in this collection make a compelling case for technology playing a key role in the child hero’s life, and subsequent destiny. Kristi McDuffie’s “Technology and Models of Literacy in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction” was a particularly compelling essay, and one I plan to utilize in my defense of human, not transhuman, adolescence. This work also introduced me to another source text which I may explore in future weeks: Unwind by Neal Shusterman.
Lederer, Richard. “Shaping the Dystopian Nightmare.” The English Journal. 56.8 (1967): 1132-1135. Web.
Lederer’s article is interesting because it is written from the perspective of a teacher, recommending that students be instructed to write their own utopian or dystopian worlds. He describes utopia as “try hard and this might be,” and dystopia as “don’t try hard and this might very well be” (1132), both of which are decently good summations of the terms. This perspective is useful to me because it focuses on youth involvement in utopian and dystopian worlds, and Lederer believes that the youth are capable of recognizing and providing commentary on the issues that might lead to these scenarios. Lederer also provides his own commentary on the concepts of utopia and dystopia, which is interesting to consider because this article was written in the 1960s, which makes him a contemporary of some of the authors whose works I will be considering in my own writing. This article is not up to date, or a comprehensive summary of my themes, but it offers provoking thoughts that I would like to cite and further delve into within my own work.
Fitting, Peter. “A Short History of Utopian Studies.” Science Fiction Studies. 36.1 (2009): 121-131. Web.
This article focuses on the history of utopian/dystopian studies in the twentieth century, which is exactly what I need to provide context for my work. The historical context from which these books came to be is of utmost importance, because they were written in response to a feeling of deep unsettledness. Fitting cites Thomas More’s Utopia, which is recognized as the first mention of the term “utopia,” but also examines several other readings which mention the concept, prior to having a name for it. He mentions the names of research centers, articles, and books that I may also explore for my research. Within the notes is a list of “forgotten utopias published between 1850 and 1950,” which may be helpful if I look for overarching themes via distant reading. This article lacks ties to the most modern works which have resulted from the utopian/dystopian genres, but provides excellent historical backing and a helpful Works Cited list.
Moylan, Tom. Scraps on Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia.” Boulder: Westview Press: 2000. Print.
Tom Moylan’s book offers a wealth of knowledge regarding utopias and dystopias as they have become popular in the literary community. Chapter 5, “Dystopian Turn”, and Chapter 6, “The Critical Dystopia” appear to be best suited to my needs, as they discuss different elements of dystopian worlds, but I believe that the entire work will be a helpful resource. From skimming through the chapters, it appears that Moylan has approached these worlds from the perspective of science fiction literature, whereas I want to approach the topics more from a historical perspective. Delving into the technology and futuristic elements of utopian and dystopian societies is a fascinating study, but it can lead into the realm of Neuromancer and The Bladerunner, which is an entirely different vein.
Sargent, Lyman Tower. “The Three Faces of Utopianism Revisited.” Utopian Studies. 5.1 (1994): 1-37. Web.
This article was cited in a few other sources, so I felt that it might be worthy of looking into, and was happy to find that that was indeed the case. Sargent discusses the definition of utopianism as “social dreaming,” and delves into the aspect of human nature that leads people to dream up idealized societies. Sargent divides the concept of utopia into three different forms: utopian literature, body utopias (sensual gratification) and city utopias (human contrivance). This article offers a very in-depth analysis of the concept of utopia, which will be helpful to me in explaining the thought behind the works that I will be considering. Sargent’s article explores social, political, and religious reasons behind the desire for a better society, and this will tie in perfectly with my analysis of the works. Additionally, in considering the reasons behind the desire for utopia, Sargent explores the possibility for failure—the dystopian. However, he does not delve too deeply into this idea, which leaves room for me to step in with my own thoughts.
Roelofs, H. Mark. “George Orwell’s Obscured Utopia.” Religion and Literature. 19.2 (1987): 11-33. Web.
George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of the most well-known and lauded examples of dystopian literature and, for this reason, it is important to have a good idea of the ideology that shaped Orwell’s writing. Roelofs article provides an interesting perspective because, as it was published in Religion and Literature, it views Orwell through a Christian perspective. While I do not currently plan to approaching my paper from a theological standpoint, I appreciate this perspective because Roelof examines the importance of freedom, power, thought and choice, all which are taken away from the characters in Nineteen Eighty-Four, and other characters in the books I will be exploring. Perhaps the most thought-provoking phrase in Roelofs’ article is his discussion of power and love, which is intricately tied into the human condition, despite the aggressors’ greatest attempts to squash it.
Mozejko, Edward. “Dystopian Fiction East and West: Universe of Terror and Trial by Erika Gottlieb (review).” University of Toronto Quarterly. 72.1 (2002-2003): 354-356. Web.
For the time being, I am only able to access Erika Gottlieb’s book via a review, however I plan on finding the full book to utilize as a source because the content promises to link together the different countries from which prominent writers drew the inspiration for their works. The dystopian genre has been explored by writers across the world and, often, the inspiration for their writing springs from the world they know. Currently, much of the dystopian genre is being published by American writers but, historically, English and Russian writers have significantly weighed in on the subject. Additionally, dystopian worlds cannot be defined by one key trait, as there are many contributing factors. Mozejko’s review explains that Gottlieb’s book takes many different dystopian components into account, as well as explaining the social and political situations that gave rise to them. I may not use this book as a source relating to the works I will be covering, however it will serve as an important background in my study of why dystopian literature arose in different parts of the world. This may also shed light on why it has arisen once again in the present day.
Beauchamp, Gorman. “Technology in the Dystopian Novel.” MFS Modern Fiction Studies. 32.1 (1986): 53-63. Web.
Beauchamp’s article offers a discussion on the place of technology in dystopian novels, and I find this important because technology is one of the keywords that I would like to tag in my overall study of the dystopian canon. Although political unrest appears to be a hot topic in the existence of these novels, it would appear that technophobia also played a role in influencing writers. Beauchamp studies the technology of dystopian fiction from two perspectives, the perspective of those who favor it as a tool used by men which could be used for good or evil, depending on the hands that hold it, as well as the perspective of those who fear it as something that can take on an independent existence–à la Frankenstein. He explores how some dystopian works, like Nineteen Eighty-Four, describe technology as being the servant of the technophile, and yet others, such as Brave New World, take the technophobia approach. This article studies the technological implications of dystopian worlds far more than I am planning to, but it will be a helpful source to cite in the course of my writing.
Knowles, John H. “Utopia or Dystopia in an Age of Confusion.” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. 16.2 (1973): 199-214. Web.
I have chosen this article because Knowles’ article, written in 1973, brings the idea of the new millennium into the ongoing conversation regarding utopia and dystopia. He discusses the fears of earlier decades, including the prominent fear of the 1960s that the world was heading into disaster, and that ideology was dead. This perspective will help to draw my research into the latter half of the 20th century, and pull closer to the works that I will be discussing as prevalent now. Additionally, the concerns that he addresses will build on what came before, while bridging into more recent history. Knowles addresses political and intellectual exhaustion, and the overall feeling of “what could possibly come next?” Knowles argues that people are becoming more confused about what would qualify as Utopia anymore, due to how vast and interconnected our world has become. Knowles’ study is based in historical analysis, whereas my analysis will include historical references, but overall a focus on the literary response. However, his extensive historical analysis of late 20th century politics, comparison to what came before, and discussion of the new culture will be a valuable contribution to my discussion.
Hanson, Carter F. “Postmodernity, and Digital Memory versus Human Remembering in M.T. Anderson’s Feed.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly. 40.3 (2015): 257-276. Web.
I was excited to find this article because there does not appear to be a wealth of criticism or analysis for M.T. Anderson’s book, Feed. That being said, Carter Hanson makes up for the lack of scholarship with an extremely well thought out article. He argues for Feed as being a better modern representation of current dystopian literature than series like The Hunger Games and Divergent, because Feed exists as a cautionary tale, the result of a plugged in society. This society is clearly an exaggeration of our own, but for this reason the terrifying possibility of this world makes it all the more real. Hanson takes the reader right into the midst of the 21st century, into the consumer-driven society, where the people are getting dumber and the environment is falling apart. Whereas past writers have examined socialism and communism, Anderson focuses on other isms altogether, capitalism and consumerism. The characters in this world are constantly bombarded with material things, and 24/7 advertising tells them all that they must have in order to be a good member of society. Hanson explains that, due to the extreme capitalism and consumerism, the concept of history and knowledge become null and void. Although Feed tells a more objective, symbolic story of a dystopian world than the Hunger Games does, I believe that both works offer valuable insight into people’s fear of a changing world. However, this article offers a wealth of criticism that I can cite as being relevant to 21st century dystopian literature.
Alexander, Jonathan and Rebecca Black. “The Darker Side of the Sorting Hat: Representation of Educational Testing in Dystopian Young Adult Fiction.” Children’s Literature. 43 (2015): 208-234. Web.
As I read through this article, I found that Alexander and Black made an interesting case, connecting current school testing systems to the high stakes, life or death challenges that exist in books like The Hunger Games and Divergent. Although this may sound like a radical connection, I was surprised to agree with a lot of the points that the writers put into their argument. Considering that the audience for dystopian literature has shifted to the youth, this may be a telling narrative of how students in school feel. Alexander and Black draw parallels between state required testing, in which students struggle against each other for a place in their schools of choice, and fictional challenges such as the Hunger Games, where children, regardless of age or skill set, must compete against one another to remain alive. They also tie the topic into Divergent, where kids are separated into different factions due to having different skills. If a person in this society doesn’t score high enough on their test, they become “factionless,” and are outcasts. Dystopian novels are reflective of the times in which they’re written, and I think this article is worthy of consideration. I’m not sure I buy into this idea wholeheartedly, but I do think that it will nicely complement the first article that I included in this section, regarding students perceptions of what dystopia might look like.
Sambell, Kay. “Dominant Trends in Recent Science Fiction for the Young.” The Lion and the Unicorn. 28.2 (2004): 247-267. Web.
In this article, Sambell examines the trend in young adult literature toward the dystopian. Although the books that she considers are not currently a part of my analysis, this article is included on my list because of Sambell’s attention to the deeper, imaginative reasoning behind the dystopian themes in children’s literature. She argues that these books exist because we live in a pessimistic, postmodern world, where even our children are influenced to think about the implications of flawed human nature. Additionally, she makes the case that this is the result of a post-heroic culture where fairy tales have been debunked. She links young adult dystopian literature to the attempt to move away from the idea that children are innocent and protected. While it may be the case that adults seek to protect children, their choices in governing the world are what lead to the ultimate manipulation, exploitation, and, in some cases, death of those they seek to protect. Dystopian literature poignantly exaggerates this idea. I will be citing this article because Sambell directly addresses the part of my inquiry which addresses the focus of youth in current dystopian literature.
Hintz, Carrie. “Monica Hughes, Lois Lowry, and Young Adult Dystopias.” The Lion and the Unicorn. 26.2 (2002): 254-264. Web.
Carrie Hintz’s article focuses on The Giver by Lois Lowry, a book which I consider to be the turning point in dystopian fiction, the original dystopian young adult novel. Written in 1993, The Giver receives special attention because it was one of the first young adult novels to address the concepts of utopia and dystopia, and I will use this book as a bridge between 20th and 21st century dystopian fiction. Hintz describes Jonas, Lowry’s main character, as being set apart, and having to face the consequences of the supposed “honor” that he has been granted. She writes on the themes of independence and freedom of choice, both of which are themes in The Giver, as well as understanding. She argues that because Jonas is the only child who comes to truly understand the world around him, he is dangerously alone. He must choose to watch the world continue on, obliviously, around him, or take a stand. Hintz also analyzes two other books that she compares thematically to The Giver, however I have not included them in this paper. Regardless, this article will be a helpful resource as I examine turn of the century dystopian fiction.
Sicher, Efraim and Natalia Skradol. “A World Neither Brave Nor New: Reading Dystopian Fiction after 9/11.” Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas. 4.1 (2006): 151-179. Web.
This article is included in my literature review because it offers a fascinating perspective of the influence that major world events can bear on literature. The events of 9/11 are, arguably, one of the biggest tragedies that any twenty-something can remember in his or her lifetime, and it stands to reason that such events would have an impact on the literary world. Sicher and Skradol note 9/11 as being the end of an era, because they see it as a nightmarish dystopian truth come to life. One need no longer imagine this level of disaster, because it became real, and to this day the world is reeling from the effects. They comment extensively on the result when fiction is no longer a cautionary tale, but cold fact. They also examine different examples of catastrophic disasters, and compare these the disasters that led to the subsequent end and restructuring of the worlds in past dystopian novels. Sicher and Skradol’s article is a wealth of historical information and analysis that will successfully support my study into the 21st century and will provide a historical backbone for the dystopian novels that have sprung up since.