In the fall, I’m teaching a course called “Postmodern Fiction and Environmental Justice,” and the last novel we will read is The Hunger Games. Having just finished it myself (I saw the movie first), I am still in shock that such a profoundly dystopian novel has become so popular. I mean, I was a teenage doomster, but most of my peers were not. My contacts in the tween world inform me that entire schools become obsessed with this novel at once.
So now I am starting to think about how to approach this with the class. By the time we arrive at December, we will have thoroughly discussed such cheerful topics as environmental racism, corporate capitalism, and climate change. The Hunger Games will fit right in, once I explain the history of coal mining in Appalachia. But I am very much interested in the way postmodern fictions produce hope as a narrative effect, and the hope of this novel centers on the lack of a double-suicide in the protagonists! Woo-hoo! Yes, the success of Katniss and Peeta implies the possibility of rebellion against the metropole, and the use of the term “district” points to the successful struggle against South African apartheid, but…that’s not a lot by itself.
I will be using this space to think through these problems. If anyone has any suggestions, especially if you’ve taught the novel before, please feel free to chime in.