Activities
1984

I’m at the point in 1984 where they rent the room: Winston sees the rat. The book is terrifying and so relevant to today. The fear of an all-knowing state. Doublespeak. Reading the newspaper about kill lists. For what? The “enemy” does not threaten to destroy us. It is just being used to justify a growing surveillance state.”

—Laura Poitras, Feb. 23 , 2013

Laura Poitras, “Berlin Journal” in Laura Poitras and Jay Sanders, editors. Astro Noise: A Survival Guide for Living Under Total Surveillance. Whitney Museum of American Art and Yale University Press, 2016, 73.

In 1984, author George Orwell’s vision of a future in which the government has the power to record everything is now not so farfetched. But even Orwell did not imagine that everybody could be tracked by the digital devices that they carry with them. Use the following resources to read and discuss excerpts of George Orwell’s 1984 with your students.

http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/

George Orwell, 1984 chapter summaries.

If your students have read or are reading 1984, what parallels can they find with the post-9/11 world we live in today?

Green and blue video feed.

Laura Poitras (b. 1964), ANARCHIST: Data Feed with Doppler Tracks from a Satellite (Intercepted May 27, 2009), 2016. Pigmented inkjet print mounted on aluminum, 45 × 64 3/4 in. (114.3 × 164.5 cm). Courtesy the artist