SAMLA 2011- Abiding Disturbance: Dystopias in Children's Culture (5/1/2011 abstracts, 11/4-6/2011 conference)

full name / name of organization: 
Lisa Dusenberry
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Abiding Disturbance: Dystopias in Children's Culture

The recent notoriety of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy continues a long tradition of popular and intense dystopian literature for adolescents that challenge readers to question how their lives are organized, governed, monitored, valued, and exploited. In Carrie Hintz and Elaine Ostry's introduction to Utopian and Dystopian Writing for Children and Young Adults, they note: "Utopian and dystopian literature talks about the fears, questions, and issues that interest children and young adults" (12). From the sanitizing social control of Lois Lowry's The Giver to the technological, futuristic dystopia of M.T. Anderson's Feed to the very near-future depictions of Homeland Security-controlled San Francisco in Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, dystopian interpretations of the future challenge our cultural and social ideals. The 2011 SAMLA Children's Literature Discussion Circle seeks papers for this year's panel addressing any aspect of dystopia in children's literature, poetry, media, and games.

Topics might include (but are not limited to):

  • Dystopic twists on familiar stories
  • Dystopias as social criticism, youth empowerment, and/or resistance
  • Questioning human relationships to technology, the environment, government, war, and political turmoil
  • Teenagers, surveillance, and civil rights
  • Citizenship and the role of authority in children's lives
  • The function of dystopic literature, poetry, and/or media as a genre
  • How dystopias revise history, space, and/or community
  • The power of poetry to represent/transform dystopic themes
  • The relationship of games like Bioshock and Fallout to adolescent culture
  • How medium affects the function/depiction of dystopias

Please send abstracts/proposals of 300-500 words as a word document by May 1, 2011 to Lisa Dusenberry, University of Florida, via email at ldusenbe[at] SAMLA 2011 will be held November 4-6, 2011 in the Loews Atlanta Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia. For more information on SAMLA, visit