Volume Title: The Politics of Panem: Critical Perspectives on the Hunger Games
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 under contract with Sense Publishers. Individuals interested in contributing to the collection are encouraged to submit a 300-400 abstract to Dr. Sean Connors at firstname.lastname@example.org by December 31, 2013. Authors whose proposals are accepted will be asked to submit an initial draft of their chapter (approximately 8,000 words) by March 1, 2014.
Table of Contents (Working)
“Preface,” by P. L. Thomas
“Introduction,” by Sean P. Connors
Chapter One: “District 14: Reader as Spectator in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games,” by Hilary Brewster and Barbara Kiefer
Chapter Two: “A Philosophical Reading of the Hunger Games,” by Brian McDonald
Chapter Three: “Hungering for Middle Ground: Binaries of Self in Young Adult Dystopia,” by Meghann Meeusen
Chapter Four : “I Was Watching You, Mockingjay”: Surveillance Culture and Identity,” by Sean P. Connors
Chapter Five: Worse Games To Play?: Deconstructing Resolution in the Hunger Games,” by Susan Tan
Chapter Six: “The Hunger Games and the Fall of the Empire: Intertextuality and Ideology,” by Roberta Seelinger Trites
Chapter Seven: “The Hunger Games as Cultural Critique,” by Anna O. Soter
Chapter Eight: “Children’s Film Theory and the Hunger Games,” by Ian Wojcik-Andrews and Iris Shepard
“Afterward,” Sean P. Connors