Twilight: The Texts and the Fandom, First Two Weeks Recap
Apologies for the lack of posting – unexpected house guests and other life issues kept me away from the blog!!!
This coming week, I will start posting class updates and recaps of discussions. A reader requested more info on the final project and this is forthcoming very soon as well!
For now, a quick recap of the start of the semester:
The first two weeks of class consisted mostly of nuts and bolts elements such as going over the syllabus, the writing assignments, and the course goals. Students are well into reading Twilight and will finish the final 8 chapters by next week. So far, we have discussed why the saga is so generally appealing (with common ideas being it’s romantic focus, it’s new vampire twist, and it’s appealing characters with someone for everyone to like/identify with).
Students began reading from the anthology Twilight and History and in class we discussed how the historical background stories affect our reading of specific characters. Many felt that Meyer seems to value “old traditions” from earlier historical epochs, especially in relation to gender roles and “chaste sexuality.” However, Rosalie complicates this a bit as she is from an era that valued the traditional wife/mother role, yet she is framed rather negatively in the text. (Perhaps due to her blonde hair – which one excellent reading response paper explored, exploring how Meyer elevates brunettes and condemns blondes).
We discussed Bella as very domestic, which is not in keeping with her 21st century time period. Someone compared her to a “50s housewife type.” Re-reading the book yet again, I noticed how often she cooks/cleans and organizes her life around these “domestic duties” – she even muses about buying a fish cookbook! I noticed this on previous reads of course, but this time I found even more such references.
Students also read an essay on vampire lore and we had a discussion about how Meyer both builds upon and departs from traditional vampire depictions and why she might have done so. Many shared their disbelief that Meyer has not read a lot of vampire texts or seen any movies, which moved us into how Meyer’s religion likely shaped the saga in certain directions.
On this topic, someone made a good point about the many anachronisms in Twilight and how these may come from the fact she penned the initial novel “in secret” and never planned to publish it. However, we also noted that turning to google for research needs seems remiss – and that perhaps more research should have been done once the book deal was secure.
One student noted the jacket pulling scene that occurs in the high school parking lot, sharing that this seemed very abusive. Others chimed in that Edward is rather controlling and condescending in the first book but that this seems to be forgotten by fans (and by Bella) once they are “in love” with him…
Many commented on the materialism of the book which will feed into the coming week’s discussion of the “Cinderbella” article from Twilight and History in which the author argues the saga fits into the Cinderella fairy tale cycle of stories as well as into perhaps the most enduring fairy tale in the U.S. – the American Dream.
More updates soon! Would love to hear reader’s comments on any of the above!