Mary Shelley is rolling over in her grave. Bram Stoker is probably clawing the way out of his. Why, you ask? Because Twilight is now being taught with their gothic classics (Frankenstein and Dracula) in a college literature class. And it’s not just any college literature class. It’s an honors fiction course at Ohio State University. Can you even believe that? Even if you loooooove Twilight, can you believe it?
In what world does the drivel put forth by Stephenie Meyer even come close to being on the same level as the classic social commentary and innovation of writers like Mary Shelley?
I’ve been scratching my head to the bone trying to figure this thing out.
Shelley and Stoker were hugely popular writers in their time. If fan fiction had existed back then, doubtless there would have been plenty of it. Stephenie Meyer is hugely popular, even if her actual skill is lacking. So then does the mere popularity and success of a work validate it as a legitimate piece of literature? By that measure, we should also be teaching Stephen King -- who at least has mastered the fundamentals of writing.
Are the three really more similar than we think? All wrote romance-horror stories. Perhaps they are worth the side-by-side comparison on that point alone. Oh! Except for one small thing. Shelley and Stoker also made grand social commentaries on life in their day. Their books were full of statements on the place of women, the power struggle between classes. As much as I can tell, Twilight might bump into the difference between good and evil, but no statement is made.
All three are absolutely cultural icons, though it remains to be seen whether Twilight will stand the test of time the way the other two have or if it will fade into the ... twilight. But does being a cultural icon classify you to be studied by an honors literature class?
I can only hope that the professor of the class assigned the book in order to make a statement about the current state of literature, to hold Twilight up as an example of what not to do. Seriously though, this book belongs (at best) in a class on Young Adult fiction. Teaching it in an honors class is just wasting everyone’s time and money. Worse, potentially teaching that this is the kind of literature we should be looking to for our new classics, that this is the quality of book we should be reading is just ... dangerous.
What do you think about Twilight being taught in college courses?
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