Twilight Group Work – Week 3
Yesterday in class students split into groups to discuss the following topics and talking points (listed below). They had a 30 minutes for discussion and 5 minutes each to present their thoughts/recap. This activity promoted lots of lively discussion. One of the highlights was the skit performed by the “Psychological Analysis Group.” They enacted a “Cullen family therapy session” complete with a lip-biting Bella, a controlling Edward, a pissed of Rosalie, and a Southern talking Jasper…
Details for the Group Work Directions and Talking points are pasted below.
Tomorrow we will begin watching the first film adaptation.
Group Work Directions
In groups, discuss your chosen topic. Select a “note taker” and document your discussion on the sheet below. The written portion of your work will count as QUIZ 2 and you will be marked on thoroughness, analysis of the saga and surrounding contexts, and evidence of deep thought/original thinking. In addition to filling out the sheet below, be prepared to offer a 5 minute recap of your thoughts and discussion points to the entire class. Instead of a recap you may also do something more creative if you wish – a brief skit, a rewrite of a scene, etc.
Group 1 – Psychological Analysis of Bella, Edward, and Twilight fans
The editors of the Bitten anthology note encountering fans “seeking a diagnosis” for their love of Twilight and share that their group interviews were approached almost as therapy. In your group, please “diagnose” Bella, Edward, Twilight fans and other characters of your choice as time permits. You might also “diagnose” Meyer and/or offer analysis of the dream that spawned the saga or the many dreams Bella recounts in her narrative.
Group 2 – The text as a fairy tale
If Meyer’s work is a “fairy tale of the twenty-first century” what are the lessons it teaches? (49) In your group, discuss what fairy tales the saga represents or echoes. Why might Meyer have incorporated so many allusions to fairy tales? How does she subvert or change the message of some traditional fairy tales or does she? Many tales teach “safety lessons,” some of which are coded lessons about appropriate romantic/sexual behavior. What “sexual lessons” does Twilight teach and why do so many seem to find these lessons appealing? If you wish, your group could re-write a fairy tale using Twilight characters and/or perform a skit.
Group 3 – Twilight as a “social networking best-seller”
The Introduction in Bitten details Meyer’s and fans use of the internet “as an outlet for Twilight related discussion and expression.” Why do you think Twilight has such a huge internet presence – both for Twilighters and for Twi-haters? How does social networking change/extend fans engagement with the saga and to what effect? Why do you think there are so many parodies of the saga? Just for fun – if Bella and/or Edward had Twitter accounts, what would they tweet about? Or what would Bella’s facebook status be?
Group 4 – The public reaction to Twilight and gendered dismissal of female fans
The Introduction in Bitten documents that most film reviewers are male (as are most book reviewers). How do you think this plays into the dismissal of the saga? How might the reaction to the saga have been different if it were penned by a male author? What do you make of the claims about the series being poorly written and undeserving of scholarly attention? How about of the claim that Twilight “ruined” Comic-Con? What about the words used to describe fans – hysteria, obsession, addict, etc or the construction of female directed texts as “schlocky and mindless” or as having “feminized cultural status” (Bitten 8, 241)? If you wish, you might perform a fan-based skit to share with the class.
Group 5 – Twilight across the generations
The Bitten Prologue discusses TwiCon, documenting all the adult fans, dads, and grandmothers in attendance. Why do you think Twilight’s popularity spans the generations, appealing to so many different types of people? Do you find the fact it is apparently appealing to so many problematic? Are there other cultural phenomenon that have been similarly embraced? How are these different/the same? Please consider the popularity of Buffy, Lost, Harry Potter, or other popular series/texts/bands, etc.
Group 6 – Twilight in relation to “post-feminism” (idea feminism has accomplished its goals and we now have gender equality)
In the Bitten Afterword, Levine argues the Twilight saga is “a romance narrative in which the heroine devotes herself to the hero to the point of sacrificing her human life” asserting that as she chooses to do so, the series “might be read as a prototype for post-feminist fantasy” (283). Given Edward’s treatment of Bella in the first sixteen chapters and Bella’s choice to pursue a relationship with him, how do you feel about this claim? In what ways are Bella and Edward “equal” or is their relationship egalitarian? In what ways are they not equal and is their relationship one based on control, fear, etc.