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Dystopian Novel

Page history last edited by Maxine 9 years, 4 months ago

Dystopian Novel

Team Members: Maxine AnsaldoBrittany ChoiTristan DentonCassie Nguyen

Annotated Bibliographies: Maxine AnsaldoBrittany ChoiTristan DentonCassie Nguyen

Research Reports: Maxine AnsaldoBrittany ChoiTristan DentonCassie Nguyen



The objective of our project was to look into the rise and reemergence of the dystopian genre, as well as compare how the socio-cultural context and concerns have shaped and changed the discourse over time. 






Textual Analysis (links and cirrus tools)


Topic Modeling: Topic modeling was undertaken as a way to trace the rise and shift of the dystopian novel by organizing and analyzing a corpus of texts discursively. That is, this research approach aimed to compare the eras of the dystopian novel by comparing the discourses that shaped the genre's production in these different eras.  


For the topic modeling research MALLET was used to find a list of 20 topics present in three different corpuses of dystopian literature. These corpuses were divided into the historical eras of 1930's-1960's Dystopian Fiction (comprised of Brave New World, Farenheit 451, and 1984), Second Wave Dystopian Fiction (comprised of Never Let Me Go, The Handmaid's Tale, and Children of Men), and Young Adult Dystopian Fiction (comprised of Uglies, The Hunger Games, and Crossed). From each list topics were removed from analysis based on three criteria: incoherence, over-specificity, or disconnectedness. Incoherent topics were eliminated because the words within them seemed to have no discernible semantic connection, over-specific topics were eliminated because the words within clearly related to only one specific novel, and disconnected topics were eliminated because none of the words within were present in another topic. The topic lists generated by MALLET:

          1930's-1960's                                                                                     Second Wave                                                                                   Young Adult     

The researcher then interpreted the list of topics by theme, attaching 1-3 words to each viable topic to describe the thematic discourse it represents. The list of themes:


1. Children, time

3. Fear

5. Authority

6. Time, body

7. Past time, memory

8. Feeling, expression, power

10. Domesticity, feeling

13. Authority, time

14. Thought, power

15. perception, expression

16. Perception, memory


17.Authority, reality

18. Escape

21. Expression, domesticity

22. Body, expression

23. Past, expression, sensory perception

25. Time, domesticity

26. Domesticity, feeling

27. Women, power

29. Past, memory

30. Women, body

31. Body, domesticity





32. Expression, relationships, feeling

33. Mind, past

34. Domesticity, body

36. Expression, sensory perception, feeling

37. Body, domesticity

39. Seeing, hearing

40. Family

42. Family

43. Speaking, thinking, creation

44. Natural world

45. Time, past, body




46. Expression, family, past

47. Feeling, authority

48. Body

51. Body, past

53. Thought, expression, death

54. Natural world

56. Feeling, expression

57. Time, domesticity

58. Society, destruction

60. Family, death





The list of topic words was then imported, as CSV files into Gephi and made into graphs. The graphs created in Gephi were set so that each node was a topic number or word with at least one connection to another topic. The larger nodes have more connection. By virtue of the fact that each topic number has at least 20 connections, these nodes are the largest. In effect, the graphs show the points of intersection between the discourses that formed the corpus of each era of dystopian fiction. This allowed th researchers to compare the common discourses of each era. The graphs are linked below.

Finally, a graph was created using the topic words from all eras to create a graph that displays the points of intersection between the discourse networks of the entire corpus of dystopian texts, making the commonalities between all three eras visible.


Timeline: http://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/380056/Dystopian-Literature/


In order to have a broad overview of the genre over time, a timeline was made to condense and present this information. Choosing from a list of novels under the category of dystopian literature, around forty novels were chosen as a sample of the overall genre. Each novel on the timeline has a short blurb about its main focus of its plot or themes. By reading through these blurbs, one can get a glimpse of the focus of each novel and how that focus has changed over time among these novels. In order to read a full summary of the literary work, one can click on the "find out more" button, which links to a summary from Wikipedia or other source. A few novels even include additional media in the form of videos or movie trailers, such as for the "Fall of the Berlin Wall" or Hunger Games. All of this information was placed on the second tier of the timeline, under the novels category.


Above this, the first tier includes historical events that provide context for these novels. Historical context allows for greater understanding of what purpose each novel has played in its time period. Many novels commented on contemporary events or social issues. Later on however, especially in the past twenty years or so, there seems to be less focus on contemporary issues and more focus on broad concepts or made up worlds with less reflection on the real world. For example, whereas George Orwell's Animal Farm provided allegorical commentary and reflection on the Russian Revolution of 1917, more current novels such as Cloud Atlas portray reincarnation and Never Let Me Go focuses on freedom, identity, and relationships. Not enough information has been found to prove this transformation entirely, but with further research this could prove to be a major change within the genre. The inclusion of more romance, sensational ideas, romance, and fantastical fictional worlds has also changed the face of the genre. This could be due to the change of audience and appeal of the genre. The most current and popular dystopian novels today are young adult novels. The most successful of these turning into lucrative franchises capitalized at their best: written in trilogies or series, and adapted into movies. Hunger Games and Divergent are prime examples of this. Overall, there has been a definite transformation of the dystopian novel in its main focus, appeal, and audience. Its focus is less on contemporary issues and more on more general concepts (which although played a great part in past novels, was not the sole focus of these novels). Its appeal is placed more in its sensationalism rather than parallelism to the real world. Lastly, its audience has drastically changed with the increase in young adult dystopian literature. 



By using the digital humanities tools, it is evident that the rise and reemergence of dystopian novels are shaped by its historical and sociocultural context of the time. The two previous waves of dystopian novels reveal a concern towards cultural issues that revealed a collective fear or concern towards a social or political issue. The recent explosion in dystopian novels have been catered to a young adult audience, yet these dystopian fictions are not as dark or pessimistic as classic dystopias. In conclusion, the recent collection of YA dystopian novels can be argued to have social messages of less urgency or power than their predecessors. These new novels explore issues relevant to teenage concerns and feature societies built on issues pertaining to surrounding cultural issues. The genre has grown to cater to a new audience completely, and it is evident that the discourse has adapted to this shift in audience. The focus on romance and feelings suggest that these books- the social criticism is not the real point. Instead the books operate like fables or myths and are didactic than its adult counterparts whose social relevance played a large part in its themes and topics. We have found that dystopian novels for adults tend to have unresolved and bleak endings, while these YA dystopian novels tend to end with a more uplifting ending, with the protagonist being able to carve out some measure of freedom within or outside the society. 


Ppt : 






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