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Presenter Information

Courtney Lear

Location

SURC Room 135

Start Date

15-5-2014

End Date

15-5-2014

Keywords

Dystopian, Young Adult Fiction, Female Protagonists

Abstract

Since the early 1900s, dystopian fiction has ballooned in popularity to the point where contemporary booksellers can hardly keep it on the shelves. Today, the smart, independent heroines who once saved the day under their own steam have undergone a makeover and emerged as female protagonists in post-apocalyptic dystopias. While the worlds are fictional, authors typically place them within recognizable locations that have been made alien through the imposition of a corrupt regime. This genre is unique because it weaves cautionary tales about the potential sociopolitical consequences of the world in which we live, and research indicates that adolescents use these stories to learn strategies for mitigating problems based on the ways that their favorite characters handle stressful situations. Although the novels are fictional, it is problematic for authors to position female dystopian protagonists as role models because of the way that young readers see these relationships as normalized and empowering. Using the novels The Hunger Games, Divergent, Delerium, Pure, Matched, and Uglies, I will demonstrate that female dystopian protagonists are bound by heteronormative constraints that reward women for being nurturing and punish them for being aggressive, thereby undermining their overall efficacy as protagonists. Authors who construct their heroines in this manner run the risk of teaching adolescents anachronistic lessons about what it means to be a strong woman. Because of this construction, it is important to illuminate the dearth of gender equity, diversity, and homosexuality in these futuristic worlds and the significance of this absence to a modern readership.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Culjak, Toni

Additional Mentoring Department

English

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May 15th, 12:40 PM May 15th, 1:00 PM

Dystopian Cinderellas: "I Follow Him Into the Dark"

SURC Room 135

Since the early 1900s, dystopian fiction has ballooned in popularity to the point where contemporary booksellers can hardly keep it on the shelves. Today, the smart, independent heroines who once saved the day under their own steam have undergone a makeover and emerged as female protagonists in post-apocalyptic dystopias. While the worlds are fictional, authors typically place them within recognizable locations that have been made alien through the imposition of a corrupt regime. This genre is unique because it weaves cautionary tales about the potential sociopolitical consequences of the world in which we live, and research indicates that adolescents use these stories to learn strategies for mitigating problems based on the ways that their favorite characters handle stressful situations. Although the novels are fictional, it is problematic for authors to position female dystopian protagonists as role models because of the way that young readers see these relationships as normalized and empowering. Using the novels The Hunger Games, Divergent, Delerium, Pure, Matched, and Uglies, I will demonstrate that female dystopian protagonists are bound by heteronormative constraints that reward women for being nurturing and punish them for being aggressive, thereby undermining their overall efficacy as protagonists. Authors who construct their heroines in this manner run the risk of teaching adolescents anachronistic lessons about what it means to be a strong woman. Because of this construction, it is important to illuminate the dearth of gender equity, diversity, and homosexuality in these futuristic worlds and the significance of this absence to a modern readership.