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"Hunger Games" trilogy required reading in new fall course

"Hunger Games" trilogy required reading in new fall course

History professor Stef Woods is bringing pop culture to American studies with her fall course “American Cultural History: ‘Hunger Games’: Class, Politics, Marketing.”

Between the trilogy’s pages, students will discover how various plots relate to modern American society as well as the factors that went into turning the novels into a profitable franchise.

“We’ll explore politics and class for [one-third] of the course, issues related to race, gender, food justice and feminism in the second third, and publishing, marketing and writing in the remaining third,” Woods said in an email.

The best-selling franchise also illustrates the importance of marketing campaigns and how to strategically attract interest in a literary product.

“In class, we’ll analyze how the series impacted the publishing industry and what aspiring writers can learn from Collins’ journey,” Woods said.

Inspired by the books journal articles, PR case studies and more, students in “American Cultural History: ‘Hunger Games’” will design individual marketing plans that capitalize on the interdisciplinary concept of the class, Woods said.

“I was intrigued by how the author of ‘The Hunger Games,’ Suzanne Collins, wrote a trilogy for young adults that became a multimedia franchise with cross-market appeal,” Woods said. “In class, we’ll analyze how the series impacted the publishing industry and what aspiring writers can learn from Collins’ journey.”

This won’t be the first semester Woods used a book as a learning arch. Woods chose “50 Shades of Grey” as a learning tool for a Spring 2012 class, The Eagle previously reported.

The popularity from both “50 Shades of Grey” and “The Hunger Games” trilogy make them similar in significance and showcase a nuanced way of teaching, Woods said.

“I particularly enjoy the process of developing a curriculum from scratch and finding creative and interdisciplinary academic lenses through which to explore topics within popular culture,” she said.

Looking forward, Woods is keeping her eye on other popular content that could be used in the classroom.

“I think that ‘House of Cards’ would serve as a great jumping off point for discussing broader academic topics,” Woods said. “Those themes include government corruption, Shakespearean portrayals and historical examples of ruthless ambition, journalistic integrity, rape in the military and the repercussions from Netflix’s decision to produce original content.”

jsmith@theeagleonline.com