I live for moments when academics and fiction overlap perfectly. This happened last quarter with The Exception and my management class. Now it happened this quarter, with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and a discussion about ethics and privacy. Awesome.
Here’s my Goodreads review of Frankie:
From the outside, this looks like a classic boarding school story about friendships and pranks and a secret society and rebelling against authority. But it gets much more thoughtful than that, and turns the genre – and the typical high school romance plot-line – inside out. Lockhart isn’t afraid to throw in big ideas (and some hilarious conversations about grammar and language), but at the same time the story has its light and funny moments, some disreputable history, a teen crush, plenty of pranks. Frankie really questions things – her relationship, the way boys and girls interact, school rules – in a way that isn’t superficial and doesn’t come to a nicely resolved, tidy ending. Frankie is in a constant inner struggle between what is nice and easy and what is difficult but ultimately proves her character. While I sometimes sympathized more with Frankie’s crisp-baking roommate than Frankie herself, she is one of the smartest YA heroines I’ve run across, and the world needs more like her. Definitely one I’ll recommend
So, Frankie talks about the panopticon as it relates to life in a boarding school (did I mention this was a brainy book?) I don’t even know if I’d ever heard that word used before, but I immediately recognized its meaning – that sense of always being watched, and of behaving as though you were always being watched. I know that feeling well. Oh yes. Then today I’m plowing through my readings on privacy and again the panopticon rears its head. If I’m being constantly watched, whoever’s doing the watching likes to push coincidences my way. I’m okay with that. But then, of course, I’m blogging this, which is just contributing to the Internet panopticon, as it were. Now I only have myself to blame.