Cultivating Perspectives: Fragile Bodies in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Series

  • Author / Creator
    MacLeod, Heather Simeney
  • This dissertation project exposes the troubling engagement with classifications of materiality within text and bodies in Stephenie Meyer’s contemporary American vampire narrative, the Twilight Series (2005-2008). It does so by disclosing the troubling readings inherent in genre; revealing problematic representations in the gendered body of the protagonist, Bella Swan; exposing current cultural constructions of the adolescent female; demonstrating the nuclear structure of the family as inextricably connected to an iconic image of the trinity—man, woman, and child; and uncovering a chronicle of the body of the racialized “other.” That is to say, this project analyzes five persistent perspectives of the body—gendered, adolescent, transforming, reproducing, and embodying a “contact zone”—while relying on the methodologies of new feminist materialisms, posthumanism, postfeminism and vampire literary criticism. These conditions are characteristic of the “genre shift” in contemporary American vampire narrative in general, meaning that current vampire fiction tends to shift outside of the boundaries of its own classification, as in the case of Meyer’s material, which is read by a diverse readership outside of its Young Adult categorization. As such, this project closely examines the vampire exposed in Meyer’s remarkably popular text, as well as key texts published in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, such as Joss Whedon’s television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Alan Ball’s HBO series True Blood (2009-2014), Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark (1987) and Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys (1987). The constellation of vampire narratives that comprise this project share many concerns—a transient or groundless body that is free from foundation and based upon change rather than fixity—and reveal the body as a series of actions rather than as a state. The purpose of this project is to expose readings characteristic in particular genre classifications, as well as representations of the corporeal figure in contemporary vampire narratives, so as to illuminate current reactions to particular “types” of bodies. As such, it clarifies the displaced subject formation and decentred body regardless of favorable or disagreeable readings of action or passivity.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of English and Film Studies
  • Specialization
    • English
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Szeman, Imre (Department of English and Film Studies)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Meagher, Michelle (Department of Women's and Gender Studies)
    • Szeman, Imre (Department of English and Film Studies)
    • Tomsky, Terri (Department of English and Film Studies)
    • Hurley, Natasha (Department of English and Film Studies)
    • Poyntz, Stuart (School of Communication, Simon Fraser University)