Throughout the course of this semester, I have learned a lot about the world of The Hunger Games, as well as how a variety of disciplines relate to it. I was surprised by how unrelated some of the material seemed to be to the Hunger Games, but once we explored these subjects, I gained a greater understanding of the historical, social, and political relevance of Panem to the modern world.
I learned a lot about qualities of dystopian fiction and apocalypticism specifically. I had not known much about dystopian fiction prior to this class, but I was fascinated by how many books I have read are qualified as dystopian fiction because they fit into the 6 qualities Dr. Carpenter discussed in her lecture. It makes sense to classify dystopias as utopias gone wrong and especially to say that they value stability above all else. The first book series that fits into this category that I thought of was the Divergent series, which also features a strong teen female protagonist that defies her corrupt government system. I also was interested in the fact that dystopian novels call our attention to ways in which we may already be living in a dystopia.
I was impressed by the frequency that our class material was able to connect facets of modern culture with a fictional world. The material really caused me to think if things like reality show competitions or violent competitions like the UFC were steps towards becoming desensitized to violence like the people in the Capitol were. I also enjoyed discussing gender roles in relation to The Hunger Games, but did not learn much new material there since I had already heard discourses about gender role reversal in the series prior to the class. I enjoyed learning about Ethics and Evil and how to define evil based on different ideologies and then taking the opposite of those moral ideals. I could clearly classify Coin and Snow as evil based on those definitions. It was easier to comprehend the abstract idea of evil when considering apathy for inflicting pain or enjoying hurting others as a base for evil. It was also interesting to consider evil to be favoring the interests of an elite group in favor of the majority, because by the ideas of Utilitarian ethics, most of the Capitol would be evil.
The two topics that I found most interesting and in depth were the connections between Apocalypticism and The Hunger Games and the connection between The Nature of Evil and The Hunger Games. I was fascinated with learning new things about apocalyptic groups and their charismatic leaders. I found that I could relate much of the social structures of apocalyptic groups to the power structure of Snow and the government and the Districts. I thought the fact that many outlying groups are isolated, and that that isolation leads to even more tension with the outside world, could be related to the isolation of the Districts so they could not communicate or unify with "the outside world."
I was appreciative that the Holocaust survivor could visit McDaniel and share his experiences. Much of the hope he kept throughout horrible and traumatic events can be compared to Katniss' hope in spite of the Capitol's attempts to mentally torture her and her family. Both Ruben and Katniss were oppressed and humiliated by the government and groups of elite in power. Both defied their torturers in different ways: Katniss by becoming an essential part of a physical rebellion, and Ruben becoming an essential part of a mental and educational rebellion.
I enjoyed all of the readings and found them easy to comprehend, but I wish we had more time to discuss each of them.
I was surprised and impressed by the depth of the material in this course and how much we could apply young adult fiction to both the past and present. I learned a lot about topics that I did not expect and enjoyed branching out. However, although I enjoyed the time spent on Appalachia and their music and its connection to The Hunger Games, I would have preferred to spend more time instead on understanding the physical aspects of being in the Games. I would have enjoyed going more into depth of the tolls on Katniss and the tributes other than the reading about starvation. I also wanted to learn, or at least attempt to learn archery in order to comprehend how much coordination and skill it takes to shoot as well as Katniss.