University of Cambridge > > Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars > Faction and Blood: Silencing the 'Inner' City in Veronica Roth's Divergent

Faction and Blood: Silencing the 'Inner' City in Veronica Roth's Divergent

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lucian Stephenson.

Veronica Roth’s Divergent seems to suggest a post-racial world, where communal values and individual choices dictate social divides. Through this lens, Divergent – with its wide popular appeal and recent film adaptation – could be seen to signal a progressive shift in portrayals of race and class in contemporary YA literature.

And yet, as the ruins of Chicago underlie Divergent’s narrative, the real history of racial and class disparity which saturates Chicago’s urban past and present suggests a very different reading. In this seminar, I will explore these elisions of racial and socioeconomic violence in Divergent. Drawing on discourse of childhood and racialized innocence, I will demonstrate that the violence of the contemporary city is imagined as apocalyptic only when dominant, ‘suburban’ culture is threatened by systematic social violence.

As Divergent conforms to the silences which surround the contemporary ‘inner’ city, I will demonstrate profoundly conservative strains both within Roth’s city, and in Roth’s representation of the adolescents navigating ‘difference’ within it.


Susan Tan’s research focuses on violence as socio-historic initiation in YA dystopian literature. She received her M.Phil from the University of Cambridge, and her B.A. from Williams College. Tan has published an article in The Lion and the Unicorn, and has several forthcoming book chapters on YA dystopian literature.

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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