Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Scholarship That Sparkles in the Sun

Yes, it's true: there is a forthcoming anthology about the relationship between history (as a scholarly discipline) and America's favorite series of young-adult novels about chastely attractive Mormon vampires. The editor, Prof. Nancy Reagin of Pace University, is "looking for essays that historicize Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series...or analyz[e] how popular historical understandings inform the series." Her suggested list of topics includes:

* "Masculine honor and gender roles in Edward’s world and Bella’s"
* "Marriage and courtship in Edward’s youth"
* Essays that connect characters in the novels to the Indians of the Pacific Northwest and South America, and
* "The Volturi, art patronage, and politics in Italian history." (Also known as "Jacob Burkhardt Wants To Drink Your Blood.")

I don't have much to add, except to note that Prof. Reagin is, perhaps, being a bit too charitable toward the TWILIGHT novels, whose plots and characterization are, by some accounts, crudely and even violently misogynistic. (See this summary of the series if you don't believe me.) A more daring or subversive cultural critic might instead ask whether the views of courtship, marriage, and child-bearing that Prof. Meyer is trying to impress upon her readers, who are mostly impressionable teenage girls, are conservative, reactionary, or totally batshit insane. But then, we historians are often too impressed with celebrity to take any risks criticizing it. We leave that to young people with weblogs.

3 comments:

brisance said...

We have a book that discusses the philosopical underpinnings of House MD, and approximately 50 (I'm not making that up, I just checked our catalog) academic tomes on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Dave Nichols said...

Well, that puts the TWILIGHT anthology in a better context. And makes me even more ashamed of the professoriate than before.

Jennifer said...

Even now the vampire obsession continues: http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=198767&keyword=twilight ...I'll admit it, while I'd boycott the Twilight roundtable, the Dark Shadows panel is a whole other matter. What I want to know is if there will be larping or cosplay?

Here is one more more: http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=198537&keyword=twilight Though I don't understand what 50 Shades of Grey has to do with the classroom. "Students, today we will focus on gender roles and "kinky fuckery" throughout US history. Any questions?"