Sara Devi Pierson

An analysis of the problematic consistency of labor estrangement and structural inequalities within dystopian literary fiction

Faculty Mentor(s): Prof. Stacey Balkan

Sara Devi Pierson, on their experience in the English Honors Program:

I was hesitant to apply for the honors program, but I'm so glad that I did. Doing so made me realize that I deserve to be here and it has given me the confidence to consider applying for the MA program in the future. I loved my professors and my fellow honors program peers and am so interested to see their final presentations!

Abstract: Energy infrastructure plays a vital role in our society. It encompasses the roads, cables, and pipes that run underground, but how do these objects interact with the laborers upon whom they rely on to keep such services intact? In examining two dystopian literary texts, I analyze how elements of physical infrastructure divide and alienate the laborer from themselves, the energy they produce, and the rest of society. The Time Machine (by HG Wells), and the film Sleep Dealer (by Alex Rivera) are from radically different times in US history, yet each addresses the problematic political climate surrounding the energy worker. I address troubling and isolating properties of energy infrastructure in these dystopian worlds, and how the worker becomes invisible as a result. Drawing on the work of Ashley Dawson, I reveal how energy transitions affect both the worker and the society in which they occur by juxtaposing these two texts. I augment existing scholarship to ensure that the physicality of energy infrastructure is not left out of the discussion of energy transitions and worker invisibility. How might these two works bring the energy worker into stark visibility and highlight the harmful nature of the figurative and physical structures that divide us all?

Sara Devi Pierson is a dual major in English and Linguistics that is returning to college after a 20-year absence. She is an avid reader and competes in local running events/ triathlons for fun. She also loves to travel & explore new places, animals, pizza, concerts, spending time with my loved ones, and waking up early to see the sunrise.

Sara Devi Pierson 2024