Wednesday, November 22, 2017


I'm moving again, and I'm happy about it! I don't particularly want to take much time blogging now, because my limited time needs to be spent researching, but an update is in order.

In the past week, I've spoken with a professor from my undergrad, as well as with my boss at the Kean Writing Project, Kim Kiefer, who is a high school English teacher. Between those two conversations, I'm excited to write this thesis.

In my discussion with Kim, we talked about my interest in the YA hero, and discussed using The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, as one of my primary texts, as a way to analyze the hero's journey through the books I am interested in discussing (a list that I will explain later in this post). I have never read this book personally, although it has been discussed in many courses I have taken, and I am interested to see if it helps to guide my research. (note-- after writing this sentence, I remembered that Kean has a library and promptly walked over and checked it out)

Proof that I went to the library. Not pictured-- the spine falling off the book

In addition to this book, Kim also suggested that I read into Jungian archetypes as a way of discussing my heroes. I don't know much about Carl Jung outside of the Myers-Briggs personality test, so this is something I will have to research further. However, a baseline Google search brought this list to my attention. Of course, I will find a better primary source to use in my work.

Okay so, heroes and YA literature. That's still pretty broad. This is where my conversation with Dr. Hogsette (aforementioned undergrad prof) helped me further. 

In my senior year of college, I was in Dr. Hogsette's Science Fiction Literature class, and he talked a lot about the ideas of transhumanism and posthumanism in science fiction. Transhumanism and posthumanism are two tropes that are commonly used in utopian literature, as ways of proving that humanity can be so much more than it currently is, through the integration of technology. However, even though these ideas are usually presented positively, the stories ultimately warn that "all that glitters is not gold"-- or, perhaps, all that has circuits is not better than flesh and blood? Usually, these lessons come in the way of a utopian world turning into a dystopian nightmare.

I have to read more about trans and posthumanism to refresh my memory of their respective intricacies, but my professor gave me a ton of sources to look into including:
How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics by N. Katherine Hayles
Prophets of the Posthuman: American Fiction, Biotechnology, and the Ethics of Personhood by Christina Bieber Lake 
Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution by Francis Fukuyama
Technology and Identity in Young Adult Fiction: The Posthuman Subject" by Victoria Flanagan

In considering all of the dystopian books I have read, there are a handful that I can think of that work with this idea. Right now, my list includes:
-by Scott Westerfeld
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Feed by M.T. Anderson
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
The City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (this one is still on the "to-read" list, but I'm reasonably sure it will fit the topic)

In all of these books, the characters, or their world has been altered for some specific technological end, and the protagonists have to deal with the implications of these changes. Ultimately, what the world-builders hoped would lead to utopia, has instead led to dystopia, and we are left with the question of-- why are we searching to perfect mankind through technology? Are we ultimately better for it? Have we reached the ultimate moral nirvana? Signs point to no.

Finally-- why the YA lit focus? Simply, because I like it. Maybe I'll discover some kind of theory as to why kids are into these books...and maybe not. We'll see where the research takes me. 

1 comment:

  1. Good to see this spark idea taking direction and please keep the updates coming through the blog. Am piling up my questions for a next call.


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