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Christina Van Dyke looks at the popular film and book, The Hunger Games, and asks what it is that we hope for when it comes to participating meaningfully in social and political life.

The people of the Capitol, where the games are held, dress in extreme fashions and dramatically alter their bodies with wild tattoos and dramatic color changes to their skin and hair. Why are they doing this? Is it simply because they lack strong sources of personal identity? Is it because it reinforces the system of social control for the Capitol's regime? What are we to make of the stylists who are so eager to effectively costume the contestants, or the show host, Caesar, who tries to empathize with every contestant? They're largely sympathetic characters, even though the premise for the whole event is so disgusting.

Professor Van Dyke will "exegete" these and other aspects of this fascinating story to show why even the most elaborate systems of social control cannot satisfy our hunger for meaningful relationships with our neighbors and fellow citizens.

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June 2012
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