Encountering Violence in the Spectacle of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games.

William Connor Smith. Encountering Violence in the Spectacle of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. Honors Thesis, University of Washington. 2014.

Since of the release of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games novels--and their subsequent film adaptations--the series has become a popular literary and cinematic phenomenon to young adult as well as adult audiences. This diverse spectatorship speaks to the way in which the story of The Hunger Games resonates profoundly with our contemporary moment, begging the question: what are we to make of popular fascination with this specific representation of violence? Though this question has drawn much attention from literary and film scholars attempting to understand The Hunger Games as the violent object of its own critique, I argue that previous scholarship on Collins' work has largely presumed a definition of violence that frames itself as distinct from the political continuity of which it is a part. In contrast, the intent of this paper is to read The Hunger Games toward a critique of violence itself as a contested site of cultural meaning—the conflict of which is played out on the aesthetic topology of popular spectacle. In this reading, The Hunger Games presents a unique opportunity to examine the nature of violent spectacle not simply as another violent work of fiction, but as the very medium through which violence is defined and propagated. Specifically, I intend to inductively work toward the claim that the aesthetic, spectacular form of The Hunger Games reproduces a necropolitical logic of death and survival not only in its manifest content, but also in our temporal and affective experience of that content as embodied subjects of its logic.

Status of Research or Work: 
Completed/published