As I will miss tomorrow’s EPQ session due to being in London for a University and Apprenticeships search, I decided to organize a meeting with my supervisor to run over my research and plan so far. As I have finished my research already, I have found that I am significantly ahead of schedule and have enabled myself to an additional 2 week’s contingency in case I find myself held up for whatever reason later on in the project.
As far as my research goes, the only element left uncompleted is my study of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”. The problem I am finding is that, unlike my other 4 case studies, I am finding “Brave New World” rather difficult to engage with. As a modern reader, this may be due to the outdated context or lexis style, or perhaps there is an element of the novel that I am simply struggling to engage with. Whatever the reason, I find myself reading for no more than 10 minutes before growing bored and putting the book down. This is undoubtedly a problem which needs solving: if I keep reading at the rate I am currently, I will run over the time I dedicated to research and throw myself off course. My resolution for this is to stick to the four case studies I already have for the time being: “1984”, “A Clockwork Orange”, “The Hunger Games”, and “Proxy”. All four of these novels have already been read and studied as part of my research over the half term, and the equal range of classic and modern dystopia provides me with enough data for the basis of my research. This is in addition to the films I will watch over time to stimulate my writing and to provide more inspiration for my novel.
During my discussion with my supervisor, we read through my survey responses and we both agreed on the following points:
- An American setting will work better than a British one. Despite the clear British majority of survey participants, the passion that the world seems to have for American politics currently leads me to believe that a modern audience would feel more attached to an allegory for today’s America. This is heightened by my survey responses; a significant number of participants referred to President Trump using one or more expletives, showing me just how passionately they feel towards the subject. As Participant 85 states: “America is a world leader and has been at the forefront of globalisation”, meaning that the entire world depends on America and so a depletion of American society is, in essence, a danger for everybody. Like the extinction of a species damages the natural food chain, the destruction of America as it currently stands would damage the lives of every other country that benefits from its work.
- I need a strong, female protagonist. More and more nowadays we see the use of strong female leads in dystopian narratives: Katniss Everdeen; Tris Prior; Offred; Evey Hammond… The list of fictional heroines grows in conjunction with the ever-expanding feminist movement. The genre as a whole is becoming more and more favored by teens, shown through the evident popularity of young adult dystopian fiction (The Hunger Games (2008) was the joint most popular dystopian novel alongside Orwell’s 1984, selected by 25.7% of the participants, followed by Veronica Roth’s Divergent (2011) at 19.8%). With more young people reading these books, the need to include strong female characters increases as, to improve the chance for gender equality, we need to educate people from a young age. This, on top of the heavily female majority (82.7%) of my participants, shows that a female protagonist would be the best route to appeal to the masses.
- Homosexuality should be key to the plot of my novel. Sexuality seems to be a growing issue in society, and especially important to my audience of survey participants. 20% of my responses came from people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or pansexual, or who selected “other” or that they would prefer to keep their sexual orientations private. This clear diversity illustrates the sheer necessity for diverse representation within the characters and plot of my novel. On top of this, a total of 15.6% selected that homophobia was the most personal issue for them when asked “which of the aforementioned issues is the most important to you?”. This was the third highest scorer in total, following a lack of freedom or individuality (24.8%) and challenged human rights (21.1%). From these statistics, on top of the clearly growing need for the representation of sexuality as highlighted by “Moonlight” being awarded Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards, both my supervisor and I agreed that homosexuality – and indeed homophobia – should be integrated into my plot.
From this discussion, my supervisor gave me the target to plan the basis of my plot over the next couple of weeks, and to create a risk assessment for my project by Thursday 9th 2017 (this time next week). We have organised another meeting for then, during which we will discuss formalities; I will also use this time to ask her opinion on plot points, to allow myself an alternative point of view which will be vital to knowing if my novel is fulfilling its purpose of entertaining a vast, modern audience.