The Twilight Mystique, edited by Amy M. Clarke and Marijane Osborne
An essay of mine was published! The Twlight Mystique is a collection of essays about different aspects of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. The collection is broad in scope, including essays about topics from abstinence to the eco-gothic to the economic impact the novels have had on real life Forks, Washington. My essay considers how Bella can be read or interpreted through the lens of Latter-day Saint doctrine. It discusses the things Bella has in common with Eve, and how her “happily ever after” is similar to Latter-day Saint ideas about eternal families. Leaving my essay out of it, because I can hardly judge my own work fairly, I think this is an excellent collection that would prove valuable to many undergraduates wanting to research Twilight.
And now that I’ve put in a plug for this superawesome book full of insights from minds much more brilliant than my own, can I step out from behind these words and meta for a moment? I felt very conflicted about submitting this essay, mostly because I feel very conflicted about the Twilight series all around. I’m pretty sure that I still believe the argument that I presented in my essay in this book, but– just because I see a connection to LDS thought in her works, and just because I am LDS myself, doesn’t mean I like what she’s done with it. I do think that the male-female relationships in all of her works flirt with abuse. I think that all of her works endorse something much too close to pedophilia. Given the accusations that are thrown around pretty regularly that, because of the Priesthood and the apparent power structure within the Church, LDS women are oppressed, dominated, and abused by LDS men, I admit to being a little frustrated that Meyer would implicitly endorse such destructively unequal relationships in such close proximity to a discussion of doctrines ultimately rooted in freedom and equality for everyone. At the same time, I know that art shouldn’t be propoganda (yes, I’m calling Twilight art. Suck it, haters.) and I don’t want it to be. I think a narrative is only answerable to and responsible for itself; if it can manage its own story, that’s enough, nevermind everything else. Orson Scott Card also takes pieces of Mormon culture and uses it in his works (The Ships of Earth Series, for example, and the Alvin Maker Series, most obviously)– though to be fair, I don’t like that either (It’s cheating to take your narrative premise from the Book of Mormon! If people knew the Book of Mormon, it would be allusion, and that would be cool, but they don’t, so it’s not.).
Anyway, like I said, I feel conflicted. I really enjoyed reading the essays of the other contributors in this book because I’m still making up my mind about a lot of issues these novels raise and I appreciate hearing others’ perspectives. (Tangentially, do you know one mark of good Literature? That it keeps making a person think. Just sayin’…) I wish there were more LDS critics out there who were talking about Twilight, and if there already are, I wish they’d make themselves known. I think it’s worth noting that, as far as I can tell, no one from BYU, the Harvard of Mormondom, the supposed intellectual seat of the Church, has ventured to publish anything– again, as far as I can tell. There are a bunch of books about Twilight coming out this Fall, and it’s possible that there’s something like what I’m looking for in that group. I guess I wish that there were other critics out there with whom I shared more basic paradigms who were also thinking about these novels. The scholars at Abilene Christian University were definitely supportive and helpful and wonderful, though, so I’m grateful for their help.
Anyway, I feel like only minimal editing is required of blog posts, so even though this is kind of a ramble-y mess, I’m going to let it stand. 🙂 Thanks for your indulgence. I hope you’ll check out the book. It’s great (and much more thoroughly edited. 🙂 )