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The Hunger Games and Philosophy: A Critique of Pure Treason

George A. Dunn (Editor), Nicolas Michaud (Editor), William Irwin (Series Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-118-06507-5
320 pages
February 2012
The Hunger Games and Philosophy: A Critique of Pure Treason (1118065077) cover image
A philosophical exploration of Suzanne Collins's New York Times bestselling series, just in time for the release of The Hunger Games movie

Katniss Everdeen is "the girl who was on fire," but she is also the girl who made us think, dream, question authority, and rebel. The post-apocalyptic world of Panem's twelve districts is a divided society on the brink of war and struggling to survive, while the Capitol lives in the lap of luxury and pure contentment. At every turn in the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss, Peeta, Gale, and their many allies wrestle with harrowing choices and ethical dilemmas that push them to the brink. Is it okay for Katniss to break the law to ensure her family's survival? Do ordinary moral rules apply in the Arena? Can the world of The Hunger Games shine a light into the dark corners of our world? Why do we often enjoy watching others suffer? How can we distinguish between what's Real and Not Real? This book draws on some of history's most engaging philosophical thinkers to take you deeper into the story and its themes, such as sacrifice, altruism, moral choice, and gender.

  • Gives you new insights into the Hunger Games series and its key characters, plot lines, and ideas
  • Examines important themes such as the state of nature, war, celebrity, authenticity, and social class
  • Applies the perspective of some of world's greatest minds, such as Charles Darwin, Thomas Hobbes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, and Immanuel Kant to the Hunger Games trilogy
  • Covers all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy

An essential companion for Hunger Games fans, this book will take you deeper into the dystopic world of Panem and into the minds and motivations of those who occupy it.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: “It’s Like the Bread. How I Never Get Over Owing You for That.” ix

Introduction: Let The Hunger Games and Philosophy Begin! 1

PART ONE “HAVING AN EYE FOR BEAUTY ISN’T NECESSARILY A WEAKNESS”: THE ART OF RESISTING THE CAPITOL

1. “The Final Word on Entertainment”: Mimetic and Monstrous Art in the Hunger Games 8
Brian McDonald

2. “Somewhere between Hair Ribbons and Rainbows”: How Even the Shortest Song Can Change the World 26
Anne Torkelson

3. “I Will Be Your Mockingjay”: The Power and Paradox of Metaphor in the Hunger Games Trilogy 41
Jill Olthouse

PART TWO “WE’RE FICKLE, STUPID BEINGS”: HUNGERING FOR MORALITY IN AN IMMORAL WORLD

4. “The Odds Have Not Been Very Dependable of Late”: Morality and Luck in the Hunger Games Trilogy 56
George A. Dunn

5. The Joy of Watching Others Suffer: Schadenfreude and the Hunger Games 75
Andrew Shaffer

6. “So Here I Am in His Debt Again”: Katniss, Gifts, and Invisible Strings 90
Jennifer Culver

PART THREE “I AM AS RADIANT AS THE SUN”: THE NATURAL, THE UNNATURAL, AND NOT-SO-WEIRD SCIENCE

7. Competition and Kindness: The Darwinian World of the Hunger Games 104
Abigail Mann

8. “No Mutt Is Good”—Really? Creating Interspecies Chimeras 121
Jason T. Eberl

PART FOUR “PEETA BAKES. I HUNT.”: WHAT KATNISS CAN TEACH US ABOUT LOVE, CARING, AND GENDER

9. Why Katniss Chooses Peeta: Looking at Love through a Stoic Lens 134
Abigail E. Myers

10. “She Has No Idea. The Effect She Can Have.”: Katniss and the Politics of Gender 145
Jessica Miller

11. Sometimes the World Is Hungry for People Who Care: Katniss and the Feminist Care Ethic 162
Lindsey Issow Averill

PART FIVE “AS LONG AS YOU CAN FIND YOURSELF, YOU’LL NEVER STARVE”: HOW TO BE YOURSELF WHEN IT’S ALL A BIG SHOW

12. Why Does Katniss Fail at Everything She Fakes? Being versus Seeming to Be in the Hunger Games Trilogy 178
Dereck Coatney

13. Who Is Peeta Mellark? The Problem of Identity in Panem 193
Nicolas Michaud

PART SIX “HERE’S SOME ADVICE. STAY ALIVE.”: A TRIBUTE’S GUIDE TO THE MORALITY AND LOGIC OF WARFARE

14. “Safe to Do What?”: Morality and the War of All against All in the Arena 206
Joseph J. Foy

15. Starting Fires Can Get You Burned: The Just-War Tradition and the Rebellion against the Capitol 222
Louis Melançon

16. The Tribute’s Dilemma: The Hunger Games and Game Theory 235
Andrew Zimmerman Jones

PART SEVEN “IT MUST BE VERY FRAGILE IF A HANDFUL OF BERRIES CAN BRING IT DOWN”: THE POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY OF CORIOLANUS SNOW

17. Discipline and the Docile Body: Regulating Hungers in the Capitol 250
Christina Van Dyke

18. “All of This Is Wrong”: Why One of Rome’s Greatest Thinkers Would Despise the Capitol 265
Adam Barkman

19. Class Is in Session: Power and Privilege in Panem 277
Chad William Timm

CONTRIBUTORS: Our Resistance Squadron 291

I NDEX: “A List in My Head of Every Act of Goodness I’ve Seen Someone Do” 297

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George A. Dunn is a lecturer at the University of Indianapolis and the Ningbo Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University, China. He edited True Blood and Philosophy and contributed to Twilight and Philosophy, Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy, and Mad Men and Philosophy.

Nicolas Michaud is an instructor of philosophy at the University of North Florida and has contributed to Twilight and Philosophy, Final Fantasy and Philosophy, 30 Rock and Philosophy, and Green Lantern and Philosophy.

William Irwin is a professor of philosophy at King's College. He originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books as coeditor of the bestselling The Simpsons and Philosophy and has overseen recent titles, including House and Philosophy, Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy, and Mad Men and Philosophy.

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February 24, 2012
The Hunger Games and Philosophy: A Critique of Pure Treason

Katniss Everdeen is "the girl who was on fire," but she is also the girl who made us think, dream, question authority, and rebel. The post-apocalyptic world of Panem's twelve districts is a divided society on the brink of war and struggling to survive, while the Capitol lives in the lap of luxury and pure contentment. At every turn in the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss, Peeta, Gale, and their many allies wrestle with harrowing choices and ethical dilemmas that push them to the brink. Is it okay for Katniss to break the law to ensure her family's survival? Do ordinary moral rules apply in the Arena? Can the world of The Hunger Games shine a light into the dark corners of our world? Why do we often enjoy watching others suffer? How can we distinguish between what's Real and Not Real? THE HUNGER GAMES AND PHILOSOPHY (Wiley; Paperback; $17.95;  978-1-1180-6507-5/ Also available in e-book; March 2012)   draws on some of history's most engaging philosophical thinkers to take you deeper into the story and its themes, such as sacrifice, altruism, moral choice, and gender.

  • Gives you new insights into the Hunger Games series and its key characters, plot lines, and ideas
  • Examines important themes such as the state of nature, war, celebrity, authenticity, and social class
  • Applies the perspective of some of world's greatest minds, such as Charles Darwin, Thomas Hobbes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, and Immanuel Kant to the Hunger Games trilogy
  • Covers all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy

An essential companion for Hunger Games fans, this book will take you deeper into the dystopic world of Panem and into the minds and motivations of those who occupy it.

See More

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