Hope and Revolution in a Critical Dystopia: The Hunger Games

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 14 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Ceren ALKAN USTUN, Maltepe University, Turkey
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, is an example of the newly emerged category of critical dystopia which challenges the assumed dichotomy of utopian and dystopian literature, and despite the significantly dystopian elements it entails, evolves into a revolution narrative. This paper presents an analysis of The Hunger Games in terms of hope and revolution. Acknowledging hope as an ambivalent concept, I approach The Hunger Games beyond the framework of currently introduced sub-genres of critical utopia and critical dystopia, and treat hope as embodying two different meanings: (1) as a means of manipulation in favor of the existing system working hand in hand with “cruel optimism” (Berlant), and (2) as a revolution trigger operating together with “militant pessimism” (Bloch). Building on such multi layered understanding of hope, I examine the role of solidarity in transition of individual hope to collective hope and emergence of a revolutionary subjectivity. Finally, I ask, whether The Hunger Games as an element of the popular culture could forge a critique in opposition to the system it emerges from, or would it work to commodify and hegemonize the radical criticism it presents.