Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

University chaplain talks ‘Twilight’ and vampires

Chaste, immortal vampires and forbidden love are not typical literary themes explored in college texts. But Stephanie Meyers’s Twilight books are wildly popular on campuses nationwide, despite the series’ target pre-teen demographic, and the series continues to dominate the Chronicle of Higher Education’s monthly list of best-selling titles on college campuses.

A mix of faculty, staff members and students from across campus gathered Tuesday to discuss the popularity of Twilight during the spring quarter installment of the Chaplain’s Book Discussion series.

The informal discussion was facilitated by University Chaplain Gary Brower. Brower chose Twilight because of its continued popularity on campuses and the interesting questions it raises.

“It seems that just about every female under 25 has read it, including many pre-teen daughters of faculty and staff,” Brower said. “Why is this book so interesting to the collegiate crowd when there is no sex in it, given that it is a romance? What is it with vampires?”

Attendees discussed the book’s themes of immortality, sacrifice and good vs. evil.

Participants agreed that one of the reasons the book appeals to young college women is the main character, Bella Swan, who experiences a life transition when she moves in with her father in a small town and begins attending a new school.

“She is in a new environment, redefining her family relationships and creating new ties,” said attendee Jacaranda Palmateer, a clinical psychologist in the University’s Counseling Center.  “These are issues typical to college-aged women.”

Lisa Matye Edwards, director of advising and orientation, agreed that transition and identity are major themes in the book.

“It’s about transition, self-confidence and self-esteem,” she said.  “She’s the new kid, and that panache and mysteriousness make her irresistible.”

Brower started the book discussion series as a way to unite people from across campus to address real-life topics, learn from each other’s perspectives and raise the level of religious discourse.  Past books have included Will the Circle be Unbroken by Studs Terkel, From Brokenness to Community by Jean Vanier, Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald B. Kraybill, and Abraham by Bruce Feiler.

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