YA Novel Review
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
This is now one of my favorite young adult novels of all time. Brilliant work. It’s fun, it’s fast – but don’t let that fool you. It’s super, super thoughtful and smart. It brings up the issues of social hierarchy, gender roles, elitism, Big Brother, and what it means to THINK about things, have things matter and have a purpose.
Love that Frankie Landau-Banks!
In Disreputable History, E. Lockhart puts forward a concept that becomes integral to the adventure her heroine decides to embark upon. In one of her classes, Frankie learns about the panopticon, a prison. Here’s an excerpt from the book:
“In other words, the panopticon knew they could be watched at all times, so in the end, only minimal watching actually needed to happen. The panopticon would create a sense of paranoia so pervasive that its inhabitants became practically self-governing” (54).
Frankie realized that the moral implications of this panopticon applied to her own boarding school. The difference between “someone is watching you” vs. “someone is probably watching you” creates a certain paranoia, creates the way we act.
Do we act a certain way because there are rules or because it’s the right thing to do?
In this exercise, write a descriptive poem, story or play that somehow answers this question. Perhaps a character is wrestling with this very question. Perhaps you create a setting of some sort that forces this question upon your character. Use this concept as a jumping off place to create a piece of writing of your own.
Outside Reading School Project
After reading the novel, write a 1-2 page response to the role of the panopticon in your own world. What/who provides your rules? How does this impact you as a friend, a family member, and as a student?