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Bitten by Twilight

Youth Culture, Media, and the Vampire Franchise

Series:

Edited By Melissa A. Click, Jennifer Stevens Aubrey and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz

Focusing on the wildly successful Twilight series, this collection of scholarly essays examines the phenomenon from diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives. Particular attention is paid to cultural, social, and economic aspects of the series and to the recurrent messages about youth, gender roles, romance, and sexuality. Essays discuss race and religion, and provide audience analyses of young adult, adult, anti-, and international fans. Other chapters are political-economic examinations into celebrity, tourism, and publishing. With new research by established and rising scholars, this volume is a significant contribution to the growing field of youth studies and complements existing feminist cultural analyses of media texts.

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I. Biting into the Twilight Narrative 19

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I. Biting into the Twilight Narrative CHAPTER ONE Mormon Morality and Immortality in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Series Margaret M. Toscano Stephenie Meyer is a practicing Mormon and a graduate of the church- owned Brigham Young University, facts usually referenced in reviews of her Twilight books. But as Flanagan (2008) observed about Meyer’s religion, in her review in The Atlantic, “none know what to do with it, and certainly none can relate it to the novel” (para. 16). Most critics have merely connected Meyer’s Mormonism to her characters’ conservative morality—no pre-marital sex, no abortion, no swearing, no smoking, no drinking. Those with more knowledge of Mormon beliefs can easily find in Meyer’s novels numerous borrowings from the well-stocked store- house of her religion’s theology and cosmology. But it would be a mistake to conclude from these references that Meyer simply and uncritically imports Mormon ideas wholesale into her work. She is no assertive feminist, but she is also not simply a “Mormon housewife” who unthinkingly accepts and regurgitates LDS Church dogma.1 In her work, Meyer reveals her core allegiance to Mormon beliefs and practices, but this allegiance is seldom straightforward and never quite pure; superfi- cially, it informs her characters’ temptation-resisting choices, while masking elements of her narrative that challenge some of LDS culture.2 The thesis of this essay is that in Twilight Meyer is subtly subversive of her church’s teachings in two foundational ways: first, she invariably puts love before obedience; and second, she rejects the principle that moral...

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