The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Using pop culture in the classroom

Photo by Photo by Brett Hayes
The Color of Revolution

Around 15 students and faculty, including those from other campuses, gathered at Texas A&M to listen to a presentation and to participate in a discussion about race and refusal in “The Hunger Games” books and films on Wednesday.

Associate Professor of English and the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas Domino Renee Perez PhD gave a talk entitled “The Color of Revolution: Refusal in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games” from 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. in Melbern G. Glasscock 311. The talk was organized by the Critical Childhood Studies Working Group of the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research.

Perez presented on how the heroine in “The Hunger Games” franchise Katniss Everdeen takes up a black subject position in the films. She also discussed how the films portray a post-racial society while still depending on racial images, and how certain characters refuse or reverse their stereotypical racial or gender roles.

“I didn’t start noticing the things that I talked about until the films came out,” Perez said. “I used the films as a starting point for critical interrogation, so I brought a set of critical questions to the films, and those questions were things that emerged from the films, and then I brought them back to the books.”

Her work is part of a larger book project about the idea of refusal in young adult fiction. Perez also hosted a graduate student workshop from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday where she discussed how to create syllabi for teaching young adult fiction and strategies for teaching or incorporating young adult fiction into the classroom.

“I’m absolutely fascinated by the way in which interest in young adult fiction extends past its target audience,” Perez said. “You have people of all ages reading young adult fiction, and they feel very powerfully about it. They make these strong connections to these stories and these characters.”

Although Perez teaches at UT Austin, she said she did not experience much of a difference between the two campuses.

“The students are just as bright and engaging here,” Perez said. “Everyone’s made me feel really welcomed.”

Co-faculty convener of the Critical Childhood Studies Working Group Lucia Hodgson founded the group in 2010. The working group hosts two speakers each during the fall and spring semesters who are focused on the figurations of the child in the humanities.

“We really like Dr. Perez’s work, and ‘The Hunger Games’ is such an exciting and popular text, so we thought it would appeal to a broad audience,” Hodgson said. “It’s also nice to build bridges with UT Austin and other Texas campuses.”

English third-year graduate student Nicole Wilson attended the presentation and the workshop and is interested in eventually teaching at a historical black college or university (HBCU).

“I thought [the presentation] was wonderful, very balanced, [and] very relevant,” Wilson said. “We need to pull these popular texts into the classroom and use them as an anchor to have discussions that are necessary, and we need to start having more of [them].”

The next speaker hosted by the Critical Childhood Studies group will be Nazira Sadiq Wright Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in April.

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