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Katniss Shrugged: The Problematic Legacy of Ayn Rand in Contemporary American Young Adult Dystopian Literature

BECKETT, STEVEN,NELS (2019) Katniss Shrugged: The Problematic Legacy of Ayn Rand in Contemporary American Young Adult Dystopian Literature. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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In this thesis, I examine Ayn Rand’s magnum opus Atlas Shrugged and her philosophy of Objectivism, in order to explain how contemporary American young adult critical dystopias are the literary heirs to Rand’s Americanist sociopolitical female-driven novels of rebellion in the face of totalitarian governments. Interwoven with my study on Rand, I focus on four trilogies: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau, Matched by Ally Condie, and Divergent by Veronica Roth. In examining these works through an Objectivist lens, I make an original contribution to the field of literary criticism by addressing the legacy of Rand’s political and ethical philosophy in these contemporary YA critical dystopias.

I focus on Ayn Rand, her influence on politics and literature, and the similarities between her work, Atlas Shrugged, and these contemporary YA critical dystopias. I argue that Rand created an archetype of the female rebel that we now see emerging in the identified texts, the coming-of-age Randian heroine; i.e., a young female protagonist with an ethical system that is congruous with Objectivism. It is through the use of this archetype, that these contemporary YA critical dystopias promote a political and ethical philosophy that is consistent with Rand’s Objectivism. Furthermore, that these works provide young adult readers with a uniquely Objectivist solution to contemporary American social concerns through the actions of their coming-of-age Randian heroines.

I conclude by addressing the need for further research into how Rand’s work has influenced other areas of literature, philosophy, politics, and society in America and beyond.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:28 Jan 2019 11:27

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