Volume Title: The Politics of Panem: Challenging Genres
Editor: Sean P. Connors, University of Arkansas
By any measure, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series is a commercial success. In 2012, the bookselling behemoth Amazon reported that the trilogy outsold the Harry Potter series, no small accomplishment considering that the latter has the distinct advantage of consisting of seven novels. A filmic adaptation of the eponymous first novel in the Hunger Games trilogy premiered in the same year, and a sequel, Catching Fire, is scheduled for release later this fall. Still, in spite of its crossover appeal with audiences of all ages, and its subsequent blurring of the distinction between “adolescent” and “adult” literature, the novels that comprise Collins’ trilogy have received surprisingly little critical attention, a result, perhaps, of their status as young adult literature, a genre that is stigmatized in academic settings. Read from the perspective of critical theory, it is possible to appreciate Collins’ series as a multilayered narrative that lends itself to close reading, and which challenges readers to examine complex themes and social issues.
What does reading the Hunger Games series from a Marxist perspective reveal about the material basis of culture? Read from a feminist perspective, how does the trilogy illuminate power relations between men and women? In what ways does the trilogy instantiate, or subvert, dystopian genre conventions, and to what effect? To what extent might adapting the series for film complicate its ability to participate in sharp-edged social criticism? Most importantly, what does a decision to read Collins’ novels from the standpoint of theory reveal about the potential complexity and sophistication of young adult literature? By asking questions of this sort, this edited collection challenges the lingering perception that literature for adolescents is plot driven, superficial fare by making visible the complex readings that are available when readers examine works such as those that comprise the Hunger Games trilogy from the perspective of critical theory. In doing so, it reveals Collins’ series to be a complex narrative that, in the words of Aristotle, instructs at the same time that it delights.
This volume is currently in press with Sense Publishers.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Challenging the Politics of Text Complexity, Sean P. Connors
Part One: “It’s All How You’re Perceived”: Deconstructing Adolescence in Panem
1 — “Some Walks You Have to Take Alone”: Ideology, Intertextuality, and the Fall of the Empire in The Hunger Games Trilogy, Roberta Seelinger Trites
2 — Worse Games To Play?: Deconstructing Resolution in The Hunger Games, Susan S. M. Tan
3 — Hungering for Middle Ground: Binaries of Self in Young Adult Dystopia, Meghann Meeusen
Part Two: “I Have A Kind of Power I Never Knew I Possessed”: What Philosophy Tells Us about Life in Panem
4 — The Three Faces of Evil: A Philosophic Reading of The Hunger Games, Brian McDonald
5 — “I Was Watching You, Mockingjay”: Surveillance, Tactics, and the Limits of Panopticism, Sean P. Connors
6 — Exploiting the Gaps in the Fence: Power, Agency, and Rebellion in The Hunger Games, Michael Macaluso and Cori McKenzie
Part Three: “Look at the State They Left Us In”: The Hunger Games as Social Criticism
7 — “It’s Great to Have Allies As Long As You Can Ignore the Thought That You’ll Have to Kill Them”: A Cultural Critical Response to Blurred Ethics in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Anna O. Soter
8 — “I Try to Remember Who I Am and Who I Am Not”: The Subjugation of Nature and Women in The Hunger Games, Sean P. Connors
9 — “We End Our Hunger for Justice!”: Social Responsibility in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Rodrigo Joseph Rodríguez
Part Four: “That’s a Wrap”: Films, Fandom, and the Politics of Social Media
10 — “She Has No Idea. The Effect She Can Have”: A Rhetorical Reading of The Hunger Games, Hilary Brewster
11 — Are the –Isms Ever in Your Favor?: Children’s Film Theory and The Hunger Games, Iris Shepard and Ian Wojcik-Andrews
12 — The Revolution Starts With Rue: Online Fandom and the Racial Politics of the Hunger Games, Antero Garcia and Marcelle Haddix
Afterward: Why Are Strong Female Characters Not Enough?: Katniss and Lisbeth Salander, from Novel to Film, P. L. Thomas