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A New Look at American Culture with The Hunger Games

Stef Woods

Photo of Stef Woods by Moshe Zusman Photography

Many people who have read The Hunger Games books and seen the films may have enjoyed the fast-paced plot and relatable characters, but a new class offered in AU’s American Studies Program offers a deeper look into the franchise. This fall professor Stef Woods will teach The Hunger Games: Class, Politics, and Marketing, a course that examines the themes of Suzanne Collin’s fictional dystopian universe.

The Hunger Games trilogy is a publishing phenomenon that has dramatically impacted American popular culture. Using the series as a case study, this course examines the interplay of class, politics, and ethics. Over the course of the semester, students will read The Hunger Games trilogy and theory discussing the text, exploring aspects of The Hunger Games and its cultural impact. Topics covered include oppression, feminism, food deserts, rebellion, the publishing industry, and social media marketing. 

The Hunger Games follow the exploits of Katniss Everdeen in the fictional world of Panem. Volunteering to fight in an annual gladiatorial competition in place of her younger sister, she quickly captures the attention of the nation through her skill and bravery.  

Although this universe is a fictional one, it offers students a chance to discuss pressing issues in another context. Panem has numerous problems aside from its rigid regime. Huge wealth disparities exist between the districts and some districts live in a state of unrest. Professor Woods hopes discussing real world problems in a fictional context will help students better understand political theory. 

Woods’ innovative take on the problems facing America today will surely attract many to take the course. Examining popular culture in this way will help open up discussion about issues near and dear to students from all walks of life. Being such a multifaceted subject, The Hunger Games can transcend simplistic classification. Furthermore, it can shed light on America and its complex society.