Appropriate for class?Here's what I know about Twilight: There are thousands of pieces of Facebook Flair dedicated to its characters, plot, setting, and so forth. Most of the "flair" was...
Here's what I know about Twilight: There are thousands of pieces of Facebook Flair dedicated to its characters, plot, setting, and so forth. Most of the "flair" was made by needy teenage girls who have some sort of fantasy-man relationship to either Edward Cullen or one of the secondary characters.
With its obvious popularity among the teen set, how appropriate would this book really be for classroom teaching purposes? I haven't laid one eye on any page of the series, but I like to teach stuff that I know kids will get into. Your opinion: Is this legitimate teaching material, or just something to steer kids toward in their spare time?
I read the first book after my students raved about them. The characters are very flat with not a single character actually undergoing any major change. They certainly make decisions (the girl who wants to avoid an early marriage and have adventures discovers she can have adventures by getting married weeks after graduating). However, based off the first book and what my students have told me about the others, there really are no dynamic characters to study.
Furthermore, if you get into themes, you may be in for some difficult sells in terms of morality and parental outrage. Werewolf "imprinting" is sold as the werewolf becoming whatever the other person needs. This destroys both the freewill of the werewolf and has some creepy stalker connotations. There's also an assumption that the relationship will eventually become sexual. Again... creepines may ensue. This verges on emotional incest as the 'big brother' figure becomes a mate, and any students who are the victims of incest may find this very difficult. Others go off on pedophilia because Bella's "child" is half vampire and will grow to full size at age seven before marrying/bonding/whatever with the werewolf Jacob. For some students and parents, this will be dismissed as fantasy. Others may be bothered by the implications of a seven year old (no matter how large the body) marrying.
Some books are worth fighting for in the curriculum... this isn't.
I agree with #6 and #5. Twilight has popular appeal much like the Harry Potter books, but it is not "great" literature. It is a great book for people who don't particularly like to read to get them interested in the reading process. The story of Bella and Edward is one that many youngsters can relate to. Bella is a misfit in Forks, Washington because she has been living in Arizona. Edward is a misfit as he is not even human. They belong together in a wierd sort of way. There is an element of adventure in this novel series just as there is an element of adventure in the Harry Potter books.
If I were to use this book in class, I would include it alongside Romeo and Juliet to explore the themes of dangerously obsessive love and mismatched love.
I haven't read these books, but I'm thinking they might be more appropriate for pleasure reading than for study. I read Scott Westerfeld's books "Uglies," "Pretties," and "Specials" with the idea of teaching one or the series. I decided not to because they seemed more like something to spend an hour talking about rather than a full lesson plan. I think we need to keep pleasure reading separate from texts to be studied. Will kids stop reading if we assimilate all of their books into their studies?
I don't think Twilight is high literature in any way, and probably not suited for study in the classroom. However, that said, as far as young adult novels go, it's a good one. It's engaging, fun, and gets kids reading. Many of my kids who have read it go on to read other books in a similar genre, even kids who haven't really liked reading before. So as long as it's interesting them and encouraging them, I think it can have a role in the classroom as a free choice reading book. I just wouldn't center lesson plans around it.
I agree that this novel would never be deemed worthy of a literature textbook; however, I think it could be used to teach separate literary terms such as static characters, stock characters, elements of plot, or the presence of foreshadowing. In my opinion any book that gets teens to read deserves kudos in some form. The challenge for myself as a teacher is to figure out how to use this book that is less than worthy. Perhaps using a few pages of text to teach these terms would be appropriate? Just an idea.
Thanks for the feedback -- This is just what I needed. Now I know what role the books can play outside the classroom walls.
It has been great to read all your thoughts about how this book might be teachable.
I teach English as a foreign language in Denmark and I have decided to teach selected chapters of "Twilight" (part of the beginning + the meadow scene, pp. 3-21 + 228-243) in combination with texts from the Romantic era and the Victorian era. I agree with those of you who write that this isn't great literature, but I think it can serve a purpose in combination with good quality texts.
We will be reading short excerpts from Byron's "The Giaour", Lord Lytton "The Vampire", Polidori's "The Vampyre", Bram Stoker "Dracula". The idea is to follow the development of a pop culture phenomenon back to its literary sources. Theoretically, we will briefly touch upon the Byronic hero as well as Freud's and Jentsch's theories of the uncanny. As a reward for the class, it is my plan to take them to see "New Moon" in November. If I can hook some of the students that way, who knows they might voluntarily read the following volumes...
I definitely wouldn't recommend Twilight for the classroom. Twilight is similar to Harry Potter in that the wide popularity of both books has encouraged more kids to read, which of course, is always a positive thing. Considering that, it might be a good idea to read Twilight outloud during a fifteen minute reading period after lunch everyday, progressing through the book each day. But aside from that, I wouldn't consider Twilight good classroom material. As Post #3 explains, the characters in Twilight are flat and undeveloped, and one of the most important themes in Twilight is dangerously obsessive love.