Honors Theses


John P. McCombe


English and Psychology

Publication Date

Spring 4-2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis


In a fusion of behavioral psychology, evolutionary psychology, and literary analysis, this thesis considers the possibility that human nature dictates the types of rhetoric utilized in any given genre. Operant conditioning emerged as the governing device in a case study of the dystopian genre since readers must be made to associate fear or hope with particular government structures. Implicitly then, literature is molded into its genres by the human desires addressed by that genre’s reigning themes. This “mold” seems to have created a strain of novels within the dystopian genre that are so similar there have been accusations of plagiarism. Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World and Anthem are considered to be uncannily similar to the Russian predecessor, We. Looking at how plagiarism is a shallow explanation for the similarities between these novels leads to a compelling conversation about the relationship between human universality and genre structures.

Permission Statement

This item is protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) and may only be used for noncommercial, educational, and scholarly purposes.


Undergraduate research


Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences