The Hunger Games and Philosophy is out this month. Contributors to the And Philosophy series (this is about the twenty-ninth volume) write accessible essays introducing basic philosophical concepts via popular culture.
As a contributor to HGaP, I received one free copy of the book, and a small payment, of, I think, $250. I receive no additional compensation for sales of this book, which is really too bad when you consider the recent spike in the already phenomenal sales of Collins’ books ahead of the movie release next month. Remind me to negotiate a better deal next time.
Others you may know from the online world are @andrewshaffer/@evilwiley and @feministcupcake, a contributor to Feministing. I discovered after I signed on that one of the editors, Nicolas Michaud, was once my student!
I’m a big supporter of introducing philosophy through popular culture. In 2010, I reviewed an earlier volume, True Blood and Philosophy on this blog. In 2003, I contributed to the first Buffy volume of the series when it was housed at Open Court. And in 2001, I wrote a review of the Seinfeld volume for the APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy. Done thoughtfully, this approach can bring a new, and hopefully newly appreciative, audience to a subject many view as outdated and irrelevant. That said, to enjoy such books, you really do have to be interested at least a little bit in philosophy as well. If you’re just a fan who really wants to focus on the details of the series, there are other choices.
The essays are about fifteen pages each, with footnotes, which provide resources for further reading if you want that, or more pages to skip if you don’t. The essays cover a wide range of subjects, including beauty and resistance, morality in an immoral world, the natural and unnatural, gender, love and caring, personal identity, logic of warfare, just war tradition, and power and privilege. Here’s the table of contents:
Acknowledgments: “It’s Like the Bread. How I Never Get Over Owing You for That.”
Introduction: Let the Hunger Games and Philosophy Begin!
Part One. “Having an Eye for Beauty Isn’t Necessarily a Weakness”: The Art of Resisting the Capitol
1.”The Final Word in Entertainment”: How Artifice Destroys Humanity in The Hunger Games
2. Plato, Panem, and the Power of Music
3. “I Will Be Your Mockingjay”: The Paradox and Power of Metaphor in The Hunger Games
Part Two. “We’re Fickle, Stupid Beings”: Hungering for Morality in an Immoral World
4. The Odds Aren’t Always in Our Favor: Morality and Luck in The Hunger Games
George A. Dunn
5. Schadenfreude: The Joy of Watching Other Suffer
6. “So Here I am in His Debt Again”: Katniss, Gifts, and Invisible Strings
Part Three. “I Am As Radiant as the Sun”: The Natural, the Unnatural, and Not-So-Weird Science
7. Competition and Kindness: The Darwinian World of The Hunger Games
8. “No Mutt is Good”—Really?: Creating Interspecies Chimeras
Jason T. Eberl
Part Four. “Peeta Bakes. I Hunt”: What Katniss Can Teach Us About Love, Caring, and Gender
9. Why Katniss Chooses Peeta: Looking at Love Through a Stoic Lens
10. “She Has No Idea—The Effect She Can Have”: The Politics of Gender in The Hunger Games
11. Sometimes the World is Hungry for People Who Care: Katniss and the Feminist Care Ethic
Lindsey Issow Averill
Part Five. “As Long As You Can Find Yourself, You’ll Never Starve”: How to Be Yourself When It’s All a Big Show
12. Why Does Katniss Fail at Everything She Fakes?: Being versus Seeming to Be in The Hunger Games
13. Who is Peeta Mellark?: The Problem of Identity in Panem
Part Six. “Here’s Some Advice. Stay Alive”: A Tribute’s Guide to the Morality and Logic of Warfare
14. “Safe to Do What?”: Morality and the War of All against All in the Arena
Joseph J. Foy
15. Starting Fires Can Get You Burned: The Just War Tradition and the Rebellion Against the Capitol
16. The Tribute’s Dilemma: The Hunger Games and Game Theory
Andrew Zimmerman Jones
Part Seven: “It Must be Very Fragile, If a Handful of Berries Can Bring It Down”: The Political Philosophy of Coriolanus Snow
17. Discipline and the Docile Body: Regulating Hungers in the Capitol
Christina Van Dyke
18. “All of This Is Wrong”: Why One of Rome’s Greatest Thinkers World Despise the Capitol
Class is in Session: Power and Privilege in Panem
Chad W. Timm
Contributors: Our Resistance Squadron
The publisher was kind enough to send me an extra copy to give away. One winner (chosen by Random.org) will receive a copy of The Hunger Games and Philosophy, courtesy of Wiley. The contest is open to all and will run until Saturday February 25 at 11:59PM (EST). To enter, leave a comment here telling everyone who your favorite fictional heroine, in any genre, is and why (and how obvious did the addition of the words “and why” make it that I am an educator?). Only one entry per person. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Good luck!
Also, if you want to ask me any questions about the book, I’ll try to answer them.