English Department Hosts 1984 Symposium

On Thursday, April 19, 2018 the English department hosted George Orwell: Prophetic Realist or Gloomy Pessimist, a symposium on George Orwell’s 1984. (Photo by Susan Quinn)

On Thursday, April 19, 2018 the English department hosted George Orwell: Prophetic Realist or Gloomy Pessimist, a symposium on George Orwell’s 1984. Former FBI agent JJ Klaver p ’15, ’18 and Pediatrician Ingrid Walker-Descartes p ’21, discussed their professional experiences in relation to the book and today’s evolving digital world.

JJ spoke about the role surveillance played in his work with the government. He discussed his thoughts on cyber security, the differences between private and government surveillance, and its effects on Americans. Ingrid discussed doctor/patient relationships in the digital age, and how today’s insurance companies dictate the type of care doctors can provide to patients.

Nineteen Eighty-Four, often published as 1984, is a dystopian novel published in 1949. It is set in Airstrip One, a province of Oceania, whose residents are victims of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation. The book introduced the phrase “Big Brother is watching you.”

IB Director Ralph Lelii and English Department Head Colette Weber organized the event which also included readings from students, queries, and excerpts and clips from 1984. Students will write about the book as part of their IB Higher Level English Literature exam.