Title

Coming of Age in Utopia: Teen Dystopian Fiction Compared to Historical Utopian Communities

Subject Area

Film and Literary Studies

Abstract

Utopia/Dystopia criticism is, on a fundamental level, anthropological. We study culture. For this presentation I am discussing utopia/dystopia and teen culture, and this discussion arises from my curiosity about why young adult dystopias have become so popular in recent years. These novels, collectively, have evolved in response to the demands of a contemporary teen audience, as the books are often produced in trilogies and result in film adaptations. More importantly, these novels appeal to a teen audience by exploiting a liminal space where protagonists struggle to come of age in a dystopian milieu. We recall that a liminal space, according to the theories of Arnold Van Gennep and Victor Turner, is a transitional period or rite-of-passage between cultural statuses. Unlike classic dystopias like Huxley’s Brave New World, wherein individuals are biologically and psychologically conditioned from before birth to slide into preselected social roles, jobs, and relationships, these recent teen novels challenge this predetermination.

With these ideas in mind, this presentation will compare the “coming of age” experiences in three young adult Dystopias, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Stephanie Myer’s The Host, and Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, with teen rite-of-passage experiences at the Oneida Community, The Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saint community in Mexico, and the Gaston Community of Mobile Bay Alabama.

Brief Bio Note

David A. Hatch is an Associate Professor of English and Division Chair of Arts and Languages at the University of South Carolina, Salkehatchie where he has taught since 2010. Before coming to South Carolina, he received his B.A. (1994) in Humanities/Classics from Brigham Young University, and his M.A. (1996) and Ph.D. (2004) degrees in Humanities from Florida State University. He specializes in Interdisciplinary Modernism, Samuel Beckett’s critical dialogues and short fiction, Little Magazines, Utopia/Dystopia.

Keywords

Utopia, Dystopia, Young Adult Fiction, Liminality

Presentation Year

October 2020

Start Date

10-22-2020 2:55 PM

End Date

10-22-2020 3:35 PM

Embargo

11-15-2019

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Oct 22nd, 2:55 PM Oct 22nd, 3:35 PM

Coming of Age in Utopia: Teen Dystopian Fiction Compared to Historical Utopian Communities

Utopia/Dystopia criticism is, on a fundamental level, anthropological. We study culture. For this presentation I am discussing utopia/dystopia and teen culture, and this discussion arises from my curiosity about why young adult dystopias have become so popular in recent years. These novels, collectively, have evolved in response to the demands of a contemporary teen audience, as the books are often produced in trilogies and result in film adaptations. More importantly, these novels appeal to a teen audience by exploiting a liminal space where protagonists struggle to come of age in a dystopian milieu. We recall that a liminal space, according to the theories of Arnold Van Gennep and Victor Turner, is a transitional period or rite-of-passage between cultural statuses. Unlike classic dystopias like Huxley’s Brave New World, wherein individuals are biologically and psychologically conditioned from before birth to slide into preselected social roles, jobs, and relationships, these recent teen novels challenge this predetermination.

With these ideas in mind, this presentation will compare the “coming of age” experiences in three young adult Dystopias, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Stephanie Myer’s The Host, and Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, with teen rite-of-passage experiences at the Oneida Community, The Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saint community in Mexico, and the Gaston Community of Mobile Bay Alabama.