Date of Award
Anatomic Dystopia: Gendered Embodiment in Young Adult Literature examines the representation of non-normative bodies in young adult dystopian literature. Despite the genre’s prevalence in pop culture and its attention to identity as an element of young adult literature, marginalized identities remain marginalized in the literature. I draw on feminist theory, queer theory, and disability theory to illuminate the societal devaluation of people based on their physical bodies within the young adult dystopian genre. The dissertation applies the work of Gayle Rubin, Susan Brownmiller, Anne Koedt, Alison Kafer, and Donna Haraway as a foundation through which to understand gender, sexuality, and disability. Despite the intended message of dystopian novels – their effort to reveal systems of injustice – they in fact reproduce many of the rankings and marginalizations that structure our social world. The central texts of the dissertation include Matched by Ally Condie, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. While these texts in some ways differ significantly, they each offer contradictory messages about the institutions they attempt to critique. On the topics of gender and sexuality, sexual violence, disability, and cyborg embodiment, the novels studied in the chapters to follow both resist and reinforce marginalization based on bodily normativity. Young adult dystopian literature has the unique ability to provide speculation on potential futures for contemporary society to an audience of readers who are in the process of finding their own identification within their social worlds. Anatomic Dystopia concludes with the assertion that the genre can present readers with the opportunity to reimagine human embodiment as a collective politics that allows for the radical inclusion of all bodies.
Dicken, Alexa, "ANATOMIC DYSTOPIA: GENDERED EMBODIMENT IN YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 479.