Date of Degree

6-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

Carrie Hintz

Subject Categories

American Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Literature in English, North America | Zoology

Keywords

animal studies, children's literature, compulsory heterosexuality, disability studies, trauma, young adult fiction

Abstract

Dystopian fiction is expected to reflect deeply on the interactions between identities, bodies, and state control. Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games Trilogy is no exception. The disturbing trilogy situated animality, disability, and trauma (both of non-humans and of humans) as being firmly controlled by the power of the state (the Capitol). Through its portrayal of hunting and genetic manipulation, the trilogy constructed a state-created animality which refused definitive labeling and insisted upon facing animal subjectivity while simultaneously disregarding the needs and desires of those considered to be non-human. Similarly, the state held sway over both the creation and elimination of disability: by deliberately inflicting tremendous impairments upon adolescents and then forcing them to re-cover their disabilities, the Capitol constructed a country in which the compulsory re-covery of disability reinforced the dominance of able-bodiedness. These concepts of animality and disability merged intimately in the arena of trauma, in which heteronormative gender expectations and heterosexual reproduction were positioned as a "cure" to human trauma while the traumas of non-humans remained non-centralized and were generally deemed unimportant. In the arenas of animality, disability, and trauma, then, The Hunger Games Trilogy both reinforced dominant cultural assumptions and radically unsettled those same assumptions. Violently oppressive norms that were rendered the only way to think were reinforced by the series' portrayals of hunted animality, compulsory recovery, and heterosexualized trauma recovery. However, these existed alongside radical subversions such as becomings with muttations, resilience without "cures", and non-human and non-recoverable traumas. The Hunger Games Trilogy, then, can be read as a tremendous enemy and asset to readers who wish to disidentify with dominant cultural assumptions about animality, disability, and trauma of all kinds.

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