Stef Woods has some words of assurance for those attending “Our Appetite for ‘The Hunger Games,’ ” her Smithsonian Associates talk: “There won’t be a quiz at the end. I’m not giving assignments. No one’s getting a grade.”
That’s a change for Woods, who teaches a class on the ragingly popular books and movies as part of her work as an instructor with the history department at American University. She came up with the idea for the class after leading one on another popular trilogy — the “50 Shades of Grey” novels.
“I had already been trying to bring academic merit to what is hot in popular culture,” Woods says. “[‘The Hunger Games’] was inundating my various media streams, so I started to think about all the issues in the books — politics, food deserts, PTSD. It was kind of great to use the story as a springboard to discuss these larger issues.”
For her lecture, there is “no expectation people have read the books or seen the movie,” so she’ll spend part of the time bringing people up to speed on major plot points. Then, Woods says, the discussion will turn to “Why was it a success? What was the appeal? Why did it resonate?”
Part of the reason the “Hunger Games” films and novels have connected with so many people, Woods believes, is that the issues raised “are reflective of what’s going on in a smaller scale, even in our city. Though this is, of course, a post-apocalyptic world. We hope it never comes to that.” It’s probably best to start practicing archery now, though, just in case.
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