Saturday, May 15, 2010

Final: Women in Harry Potter

It goes without question that the Harry Potter series is one of the most popular literary events in recent history. It is adored by men, women, and most importantly, children. The story revolves around a magical boy, experiencing a magical world, filled with magical men, women, and children, some good, and some very, very bad. While the story is exciting and riveting to both boys and girls, what is the real message being sent to the little girls and young women engrossed in the story? Ironically, even though the series was written by a female, J. K. Rowling, the story features adult female character after adult female character fulfilling traditional stereotypical roles of housewives, schoolmarms, and evil monsters. Aside from strong, independent, intelligent teenage girls, who also have their own literary issues, the adult women that populate the story fit Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s “Madwoman in the Attic” ideals and do nothing to promote positive role models for the young girls that have fallen in love with Harry’s story. Gilbert and Gubar argue that, “. . . a woman writer must examine, assimilate, and transcend the extreme images of ‘angel’ and ‘monster’ which male authors have generated for her” (812). However, Rowling does nothing to transcend these ideals, rather, she presents characters that simply fit the stereotype traditional presented for years.
Perhaps the most ideal, most angelic woman in the story is the character of Molly Weasley. Mrs. Weasley is a devoted wife and mother of seven. Her only job is to care for her family, cooking, cleaning, chaperoning, and to worry about everything. Even though Mrs. Weasley attended Hogwarts and received an extensive magical education as a girl, her eventual role in the wizard world is to be the perfect housewife. As Gilbert and Gubar point out, “The arts of pleasing men, in other words, are not only angelic characteristics; in more worldly terms, they are the proper acts of a lady” (816). Mrs. Weasley is the ultimate perfect woman. Even though it is clear that she is intelligent and could possibly be self-sufficient, she is continually complimented on her cooking and cleaning skills. When the “good” guys organize a resistance force against their corrupt government, Mrs. Weasley main task was to take care of the children, cook for the assembled men, and clean headquarters. While Mrs. Weasley clearly represents the perfect mother, the mother every child would love to have, she also represents the limits placed on women in Rowling’s world. In order to be perfect, a woman must be confined to the home.
On the other hand, Rowling does also include demonic housewives in her tale. Both Narcissa Malfoy and Petunia Dursley represent the other end of the housewife angel. Both characters are also doting wives and caring mothers, but only when it comes to their immediate families. Rowling has also taken a male view in representing domesticity, “. . . patriarchal texts have traditionally suggested that every angelically selfless Snow White must be hunted, if not haunted, by a wickedly assertive Stepmother: for every glowing portrait of submissive women enshrined in domesticity, there exists an equally important negative image that embodies the sacrilegious fiendishness of what William Blake called the ‘Female Will’” (Gilbert and Gubar 819). While Mrs. Weasley takes care of everyone and everything she comes in connect with, Mrs. Malfoy and Mrs. Dursley do the opposite. They demonstrate that the housewife can also be an evil being, one that actively works against all that is angelic and pure in domesticity. Both women do their utmost, short of killing him, to ensure that Harry’s life is miserable. These women are not domestic angels, but rather domestic demons.
Some may argue that there are strong, independent, “good guy” female adult role models in the epic. Minerva McGonagall and Poppy Pomfrey are both apparently single, professionally employed women in the wizardry world. McGonagall is a senior professor at Hogwarts, frequently second in command to Headmaster Dumbledore and Pomfrey is the school nurse. However, despite their apparent roles as non-housewife angels or demons, the facts are that both of these women are limited to traditionally viewed “women’s work.” Simply put, McGonagall is a teacher, not the Headmaster, and Pomfrey is a nurse, not a doctor. Outside of school events, these characters seem to have very little in the way of social lives. Both women live at the school, apparently single, and both professions can be boiled down to taking care of children, a job that is traditionally viewed as a mother’s job. Essentially, even though they do not have husbands to dote on, they can be seen as housewives, simply housewives of students.
There are even women in the story that play even more perfect “angels” then that of the various housewives in the story. The most perfect angel that can exist is of course, the dead female, a role played “heroically” by Harry’s mother. As Gilbert and Gubar point out, “Whether she becomes an objet d’art or a saint, however, it is the surrender of her self – of her personal comfort, her personal desires, or both – that is the beautiful angel- woman’s key act, while it is precisely this sacrifice which dooms her both to death and to heaven. For to be selfless is not only to be noble, it is to be dead” (817). From the beginning of the story, Harry’s mother is dead, killed in combat with the Dark Lord. She is immortalized as the perfect mother from the start of the epic, even though she is dead. Rowling has chosen to epitomize the perfect woman; in the same way legions of male authors before her have done, by being as selfless and self-sacrificing as to have given her life for another, more important, male character. Throughout the story, Harry’s mother is placed on a pedestal, untouched and unmatched by any other woman in the story. She has saved Harry’s life through her sacrifice, through her love, by placing Harry’s life, a male, as more important than her own.
On the other end of the spectrum, are the female demons. There are two characters in the story that personify the strongest, most independent, driven, self-sufficient, intelligent women, Rita Skeeter and Dolores Umbridge. Skeeter is a feisty, driven newspaper journalist, willing to do anything necessary to get the story, and Umbridge is a high-level government worker, brought in to take over the school when the government feels that Dumbledore has failed. Both of these women have clearly found success in this wizardry world filled with men. However, despite their success in their respective fields, both of these women are evil. Skeeter breaks the law frequently and reports in accurately about world events and Umbridge is on a mission to destroy Harry and everyone who supports his “good” cause. These two women, the most self-sufficient and successful women in the book are not meant to serve as role models for girls, but rather as cautionary tales. The roles these two characters play are to warn young girls of the dangers of success in a man’s world. Rowling is warning girls not too try too hard, or else you may end up evil, just like these two characters.
And then there’s the literal madwoman in the attic, Professor Trelawney. This character does not teach any traditionally respected subject, rather, she teaches Divination, the “art” of predicting the future. When this character is first introduced, she is described as resembling a bug, “Harry’s immediate impression was of a large, glittering insect. Professor Trelawney moved into the firelight, and they saw that she was very thin; her large glasses magnified her eyes to several times their natural size, and she was draped in a gauzy spangled shawl” (Rowling 102). Throughout the novels, Professor Trelawney is looked down upon as a literal crazy woman by nearing all the students, and even most of staff, including Headmaster Dumbledore. In addition to her odd looks, she also plays the role of a madwoman when she makes her vague predictions about the future, “Her eyes started to roll. Harry sat there in a panic. She looked as though she was about to have some sort of seizure. He hesitated, thinking of running to the hospital wing- and then Professor Trelawney spoke again, in the same harsh voice, quite unlike her own . . . Professor Trelawney’s head fell forward into her chest. She made a grunting sort of noise. Harry sat there, staring at her. Then, quite suddenly, Professor Trelawney’s head snapped up again” (Rowling, Prisoner 324). Why would a female author choose to include such a negative representation of a woman in her novel? This character is not meant to be seen as “evil”, merely the silly lady who teaches in the farthest tower in farthest wing of the castle. Rowling has placed a female teacher in the role of comic relief, further degrading the idea that women can productively contribute to this society. Yet again, Rowling has allowed the male viewpoint of female as monster to take over another character.
Even when viewing the teenage characters, characters that are typically seen as young, independent, positive role models for girls, Rowling presents problematic representatives of womanhood. As Cherland notes, “Rowling, for example, often uses a discourse of rationality to mark male characters as reasonable and a discourse of irrationality to mark female characters as foolish” (275). This problem is seen most especially in the characters of the Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley. Hermione is frequently set-up to play a foil to Harry. Where Harry is level headed and no-nonsense, Hermione is often to reliable on logic and even somewhat foolish (Cherland 278). For example, in Goblet of Fire, Hermione becomes obsessed with granting house elves equal rights. While everyone can agree on the logic and empathy Hermione shows in her cause, time and time again, Hermione is ridiculed for being foolishly romantic in her notions by both Harry and Ron, as well as the rest of the student body. Even the house elves themselves balk at her attempts to grant them freedom.
Similarly, Harry’s eventual girlfriend, and then wife, Ginny is also frequently cast in a negative light. Even though Ginny is strong and intelligent, quick to point out others foolish behaviors and is never brought down by others insulting remarks, Ginny is slyly and unconsciously cast in the role of slut. Throughout the epic, Ginny dates many of the boys at Hogwarts. While this can be seen as progressive, her brothers, as well as Harry, look down on her promiscuous behavior (Cherland 278). Additionally, as if to add insult to injury, Ginny is also Harry’s love interest. Based on his decision to break-up his relationship with her in Deathly Hallows, sends the message that love is bad, and by extensive, so is Ginny. Harry, using logic and reason, decides that staying with Ginny would only complicate his chances of defeating Lord Voldemort, and therefore breaks-up with Ginny, sending the message that being a relationship with a girl the wrong decision to make when facing any sort of adversary. Clearly, in Harry’s mind, Ginny’s love and support would not assist him and therefore, she must be a bad influence in his quest (Cherland 277).
And there’s Luna Lovegood, or Loony Luna, as the other students refer to her. Luna is a sweet and intelligent student; however, her biggest claim to fame in the novels is that she is crazy. Her father publishes a magazine that could be likened to that tabloid classic Weekly World News, and even worse; she believes nearly all of his outlandish, even for the wizardry world, stories. Rather than note her keen sense of right and wrong, or ability to rise above relentless teenage teasing, frequent Rowling commentary about Luna revolves around her turnip earrings, 3D glasses, and her belief in imaginary creatures. Luna is literally a madwoman in the making. While Luna does not receive a flash forward mention in the final chapter of the epic series, she does play a crucial role in assisting Harry in overthrowing the evil Lord Voldemort, however, even after relaying her important knowledge in subject of diadems, Rowling is quick to follow up Luna’s intelligent statements with additional blathering nonsense, “Daddy’s Wracksprout siphons -” (Rowling, Deathly Hallows 584).
Another seemingly strong, independent teenage girl in the story is the character of Fleur Delacour, a sort of exchange student from a girls’ wizardry school in France, and perhaps the most troubling female depiction. Fleur is repeatedly described as the most beautiful, graceful, elegant, and generally awe-inspiring girl the students have ever seen. The boys at the school are instantly smitten, and of course, the girls instantly despise her. Fleur plays the role of a Veela, similar to the Ancient Greek mythical siren. While she is the perfect girl that every girl seems to want to be, the problem with her role as the siren metaphor, as Cherland notes, is “What is obvious in the siren story line, so obvious that we all know it, so obvious that it is common sense? It is the understanding that female people are different from normal people. Girls and women are sexual beings with dangerous powers over men” (Cherland 275). As she continues, “The position of siren is only one of the subject positions offered to girls in the Harry Potter novels, of course, but it is one that is offered to them again, on a daily basis, in clothing stores, in films and music videos, in advertising, and in fairy tales” (Cherland 276). Fleur is a “good guy” in the story. She someone that the reader is meant to feel sympathy for, yet Rowling depicts her in a way that no ordinary girl could ever compete with, sheer perfection.
Adding to the problem of Fleur is her adult storyline. Fleur is a bit older than Harry, and therefore graduates into the adult world before the rest of the teenage characters. Her eventual adult role, much like that of all female “angels” in the story, is housewife. Fleur marries one of Ron Weasley’s older brothers, a brother that has been bitten by a werewolf, and becomes a cooking, cleaning, doting housewife. A major problem here is the message that is sent to girls reading the story, “The ‘killing’ of oneself into an art object- the pruning and preening, the mirror madness, and concern with odors and aging, with hair that is invariably too curly or too lank, bodies too thin or too thick- all this testifies to the efforts women have expended not just trying to be angels but trying not to become female monsters” (Gilbert and Gubar 823). In order for girls to live up to Fleur’s ridiculously high standard, they must give in to the pressure of being perfect, most importantly on the outside, and for what? To become a perfect, angelic housewife.
So, if these books incorporate so many terrible role models for girls, why are they so popular? It goes without argument that this series is one of the most popular in history, even though the world Rowling has created does not give girls a place to be successful and productive. Cherland theorizes, “I think she intends to entertain and charm them. But part of her charm is her facility with language and her familiarity with the story lines of humanism as they have appeared in European history. These have helped to make the Harry Potter novels wildly successful, because they help us to imagine ourselves as part of Harry’s world” (Cherland 279). Perhaps Rowling is just mimicking the world as we know it. Perhaps the popularity stems from the fact that Rowling is simply incorporating the cues girls receive in society today anyway. As Hubar points out in her essay regarding girls, literacy, and their place in society, “This implies that inequality between men and women is rooted in female personality rather than in capitalist patriarchy, an individual rather than a structural analysis. However, replacing stereotypical depictions of women and girls with liberated ones is insufficient to overcome women’s subordination” (89). Hubar is stating that putting non-stereotypical depictions of women and girls in books may not be enough to replace common notions of a women’s place in the world. As Hubar also notes, the roles women and girls play in literature a merely reflections of the options given to women in a particular time period (88).
Maybe the Harry Potter series is Rowling’s sly attempt to point out that women still do not have the same options as men in this world. And as for their resulting popularity, perhaps unconsciously, women and girls are accepting Rowling’s idea that females are still, even in this modern day, regulating to working in the home or school’s, continuing to take care of children. As Hubar furthers notes, “Girls are better served by novels that offer them not only positive role models but also a structural ‘map’ of social reality, one which reveals the historical development, and interrelationship, of the institutions of gender, race, and class. Such knowledge is crucial if girls are to begin to understand and to transform oppressive social institutions” (85).

Works Cited
Cherland, Meredith. “Harry’s Girls: Harry Potter and the Discourse of Gender.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 52.4 (2009): 273-282. Academic Search Elite. Web. 20 Apr. 2010.
Gilbert, Sandra, and Susan Gubar. Rivkin, Julie and Michael Ryan, Ed. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. Print.
Hubar, Angela. “Beyond the Image: Adolescent Girls, Reading, and Social Reality.” National Women’s Studies Association Journal 12.1 (2000): 84-99. Academic Search Elite. Web. 20 Apr. 2010.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. New York: Scholastic, 2007. Print.
- - -. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic, 1999. Print.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Better Late than Never

I’ve procrastinated writing this final blog entry beyond belief. The reason, I’m not entirely sure how to categorize “The Elephant Man.” I watched the movie, I’ve seen the play, and unlike more than a few students in class, I even knew that the story was loosely based on a real person’s life. So, what aspect of theory should I apply to the story? Maybe some sort of reference to anti-capitalist thought? The Elephant Man as a product. Used to make money for the man. Destroying his life while making rich those around him. Maybe “Borderlands?” The Elephant Man as neither upper or lower class. Neither human or animal. Stuck balancing his life as both educated and a circus freak. Maybe “Madwoman in the Attic?” The Elephant Man as a woman, literally closeted in the either a cage or the attic of the hospital. Left to rot. Maybe this is David Lynch’s attempt to blast society’s obsession with non-normal? Maybe I could do some sort of riff on the famous "I am not an animal!" quote? I really don’t know. It’s such a weird story, especially because it’s real. I honestly just don’t know what to make of it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Group Therapy

I won't lie, I'm not a big fan of group work, especially not at the college level, and even less so at the graduate level. Therefore, i was none-to-pleased to be forced into a group, with people I've never met, to work on a text I've never read, to present with little to no direction.

In my opinion, our first few meetings did not go well. Part of the problem was that some people had read the text, some had not, some of us had teaching experience and issues letting go of control (that'd be me), and some had little to no teaching experience. Anyway, a few minor spats ensued.

After a bit, things calmed down and we eventually opted for a Jeopardy style presentation. Aside from some minor disagreements as to how the game should be run, overall, the set-up and planning of discussion questions went remarkably smoothly.

Of course, i think we could have used a touch more planning, but over all, i was very happy with our eventually presentation. Oh, and the happy-homemaker costumes were fun too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

YA Power!

I couldn't help but notice the correlation between "Borderlands/La Frontera" and the book I just finished reading for my Children's Lit. class, "Julie of the Wolves." Interestingly enough, the ideas presented in "Borderlands" matched almost word for word exactly to the themes of "Julie of the Wolves", a sixth grade level text. "Julie" is about an Eskimo girl who has runaway from her arranged marriage to live on the frozen tundra of Alaska while attempting to reach San Francisco. Oddly, aside from her efforts to win over the wolves and survive in the wild, at heart, Julie is struggling with her place in society, within her culture. She is caught between being "Julie" an American, and "Miyax", an Eskimo native. Just like in "Borderlands", Julie does not know which part of herself she should follow. Should she become Julie, and American, or should she stay true to her Eskimo roots. Adding to her struggle, her father raised her to be a true Eskimo, but then later in life, he has embraced the American lifestyle. Julie also struggles with language. Of course, she speaks both English and her native tongue, but she is unsure which language truly represents herself.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Welcome Exit from the Jungle

For this blog, I'm just going to go with a general stream of consciousness of my thoughts post "The Jungle" class discussion. Maybe some things I managed to express during class, while maybe others, not so much since I had to represent the child laborers in our in-class trial.

Let me start by being totally honest, I did not finish reading the book. Yes, I had read the book in the past, so I did know what I had missed on this re-read. But seriously, I just couldn't bring myself to go through the horrors of the story again. I didn't want to sit back and watch everyone die, slaughter animals, get hooked on drugs, and experience general life catastrophes, whether through limb loss, family loss, or general humanity loss. I just couldn't do it.

Like I said in my previous post, I don't eat ground meat for good reason. This story is horrifying. Seriously, it could easily be made into a kitchsy horror film.

OK, other topics, Marxism, Socialism, and the American Dream. Clearly, this book points out just how unattainable the American Dream really is, especially for immigrants. It's such a huge disservice we do be constantly touting the American Dream as a possibility for everyone. The fact is, without the general slaving masses, mostly new immigrants, no one would be able to reach the American Dream of home ownership, education for their children, and a 2 week vacation every year. Let's face it, Sinclair and Marx have a point, the system, Capitalism, is bad. It clearly keeps the poor, poor and the rich, rich. And as horrible as it is to say, without this system, there's no way I'm be in the situation I am in today. So I can complain away about the unjust treatment of the general masses, but really, aren't I just continuing the process by buying my cheap goods? Without the exploitation of the masses, there's no way I could live my comfortable lifestyle.

For the record, I've experimented with the Socialist lifestyle. I've lived on a Kibbutz in Israel, working in the dining hall, making breakfast and lunch for the farm in exchange for room and board. And it was great, for a time. But maintaining the lifestyle over my life, would just never work for me. I want to do more, sadly, own more, get out more. And I'm guessing, so does everyone else in the world. So even though I love to concept of Socialism, and it is my go-to choice for extreme governmental options, in reality, Capitalism suits my heart's desires.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Don't Eat the Hot Dogs

For this blog, I'm doing a bit of pre-writing about "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair. I read this book when I was in the 8th grade. Based on my sketchy memories of the story, I'm guessing this book easily relates to Marx. Something to do with the man and the machine keeping the people down. Capitalism being a ploy to keep the poor, poor, and the rich, rich. I remember heaps of people living together in squalor. And the worst memory I have of the story, the scene after the kid has trudged to work, and his ear has frostbite, and it breaks off! Even worse, the floor manager, or some adult, picks the ear up and tossed it in the meat grinder! And people think I'm odd for not eating ground meat.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Midterm: Sublime Love

When Longinus developed his concept of the sublime, it is impossible to imagine that he had any notion of the impending world of pop culture and mass media. When Longinus set down his rules for what could be considered sublime, “The first and most important is the ability to form grand conceptions . . . Second comes the stimulus of powerful and inspired emotion . . . the choice or words and the use imagery and elaborate language . . . and elevated word arrangement”, he probably was not taking into consideration the possibility that young adult literature could meet these requirements (Murray 121). In fact, it’s probably difficult for many to see that a mere “children’s” book could possibly meet the requirements to be considered sublime.

When it comes to identifying the sublime, it is impossible to say that it is only one thing. Many would argue that the sublime, in the sense of Longinus, can only refer to “great books”, those traditionally associated with the literary canon. As Karen Swann states in her article, “Urbanization, the rise of a mass media and a mass press, and a general falling-off of interest in the fate of institutions are all developments that might seem to threaten both the continued privilege of traditionally privileged books” (18) However, I think that the sublime is a personal issue. What may be sublime to one person may not be sublime to another. The ability to identify something as sublime depends on a person’s age and background. Therefore, even though the wildly popular Twilight series may be seen as trite nonsense to many, in reality, nearly all teenage girls would clearly see this vampire love story as the most sublime literature ever written. While “for Longinus sublimity is the quality which gave pre-eminence and eternal fame to the greatest poets and prose authors,” the Twilight series written by Stephanie Meyer has been labeled as having this quality by millions of teenage girls around the world (Innes 261).

When considering the sublimity of the Twilight series, one has to take into account the teenage girl. A teenage girl is a completely different entity from all other humans. As Caitlin Flanagan states in her article exploring the appeal of the series, “. . . she is a creature designed for reading in a way no boy or man, or even grown woman, could ever be so exactly designed, because she is a creature whose most elemental psychological needs – to be undisturbed while she works out the big questions of her life, to be hidden from view while still in plain sight, to enter profoundly into the emotional lives of others- are met precisely by the act of reading” (Flanagan 3). Because of this, the Twilight series hits a nerve of sublimity like no other modern day romance story does for the teenage girl. While the story may not seem very sublime, or even well-written to any real literary critic, to the teenage girl, the story fits all of Longinus’ sublime requirements, therefore making one of the most sublime literary available on the mass market level.

Longinus’ first requirement for sublimity is that the writing must include “grand conceptions.” Now the story behind Twilight is nothing more than a simple fairy tale, high school romance. Yet, when it comes to the mind of a teenage girl, what concept could be bigger than first love? To many teen girls, finding a boyfriend, and the dream of one day marrying that first boyfriend, is the grandest of all concepts. As Flanagan says, “the Twilight series is not based on a true story, of course, but within it is the true story, the original one” (3). In others words, true love, the concept that teen girls spend their days thinking about more than any other single idea, love. This may not be a concept that is grand or extraordinary to most literary critics, but if discovering the sublime is related to whom you are, then finding love with the boy in your science class, is as sublime an idea as any. If literary critics cannot see that high school love is a grand concept, then perhaps they are simply too far removed from who they once were, from most everyone’s teenage reality, to effectively see grand concepts in the average person’s life.

Longinus’ second requirement for sublimity is powerful and inspired emotion. Teenage girls are nothing but a bundle of powerful emotion, and the one emotion they feel most inspired by, love. As Flanagan points out, “The erotic relationship between Bella and Edward is what makes this book- and the series- so riveting to its female readers” (Flanagan 5). When reading this particular series, girls lose themselves in the love triangle between Bella, Edward, and Jacob. “What is interesting is how deeply fascinated young girls, some of them extremely bright and ambitious, are by questions the book poses, and by the solutions their heroine chooses” (Flanagan 6). Ask any teenage reader of the series as to whom Bella should choose, and you will receive a near dissertation on the subject. The fact that a mere young adult fantasy love story can evoked such powerful opinions in such a wide population is proof that the Twilight series meets this particular requirement for the sublime. Now some may not agree that a love triangle between a human, a vampire, and werewolf constitutes “powerful and inspired emotion”, but as a teen girl, what more is there to life than dreaming about your soul mate? For a teenage girl, there is nothing that could be more sublime, more powerful emotionally, then having to choose between two boys who are willing to do anything to maintain your undivided and undying attention.

Longinus’ final three requirements for sublimity, noble diction with word choice, use of imagery and elaborate language, and elevated word arrangement, can all be combined into one similar category related to language and style. Admittedly, it is difficult to make a case for the noble diction and elaborate language of Stephanie Meyer’s work. Twilight does not contain extensive metaphors for life, dreamlike imagery, or even witty and engaging banter between the characters. However, what it does do is fully and completely engage its intended audience, the teenage girl. The language used completely encapsulates the modern teenage language. Therefore, it does contain noble diction, elaborate language, and elevated word arrangement, at least as far as the teenage mind is concerned. As Innes states in his article, “genius is preferable to meticulous craftsmanship, genius by definition makes mistakes, and in any case the mistakes of a genius are few” (262). If any mistakes are present in Meyers writing, then as Innes argues, that simply represents her genius, her genius as it relates to a writing style that teenage girls see as sublime.

The sublimity found in the Twilight may seem farfetched, but in this day and age, how can worldwide love of a novel, in competition with television, music, internet, movies, and a litany of other modern day advances in entertainment, not be seen as representing a type of sublimity. The fact is, it is important to push today’s teens into finding their love of the simple written word. As Plato thought, “The arts, as he conceives them, are charming in themselves, but more importantly are useful in freeing young minds from their instinctive infatuation with material things, thus clearing the way for attention to the ideas” (Moore 8). Therefore, shouldn’t the sublimity in Twilight be celebrated and drawn out, rather than squashing girls’ love of the book as a mere fad?

Many may agree with Karen Swann when she states, “The sublime is always in danger of succumbing to gross popularity” (9). However, I do not think that this is such a bad thing. What is the point of preventing something of “gross popularity” from entering into the ranks of the great and sublime? After researching notions of the sublime, I could not help but notice that many seem to consider the most inaccessible forms of writing as being the most sublime. Swann did note, “Nothing provokes the contempt of the philosopher quite as much as our national attachment to whatever strikes us as awesome”, but why can’t something that clearly connects with something deep inside millions of girls not be considered sublime? (19)

Works Cited
Flanagan, Caitlin. “What Girls Want.” The Atlantic Online. The Atlantic Monthly Group, Dec. 2008. Web. 27 Apr. 2009.
Innes, D.C. “Longinus and Caecilus: Models of the Sublime.” Mnemosyne 55.3 (2002): 259-284. JSTOR. Web. 4 Mar. 2010.
Moore, Ronald. “Aesthetics for Young People: Problems and Prospects.” Journal of Aesthetic Education 28.3 (1994): 5-18. JSTOR. Web. 27 Feb. 2010.
Murray, Penelope, and T. S. Dorsch. Classical Literary Criticism. New York: Penguin, 2004. Print.
Swann, Ken. “The Sublime and the Vulgar.” College English 52.1 (1990): 7-20. JSTOR. Web. 27 Feb. 2010.

Annotated Bibliography
Flanagan, Caitlin. “What Girls Want.” The Atlantic Online. The Atlantic Monthly Group, Dec. 2008. Web. 27 Apr. 2009. This article focuses on the runaway popularity of the Twilight series. The author theorizes that the popularity stems not from magnificent writing or intricate storyline, but because the story strikes a chord with teenage girls, perfectly hitting the tone that teen girls look for in their sublime literature. The author even admits that even though she is a grown woman, the story managed to stir inside herself that long lost feeling of losing her teenage self within a young adult novel. This article perfectly supports my theory that the sublime must be defined by your own self and that when it comes to teenage girls, Twilight is as sublime as novels come.
Innes, D.C. “Longinus and Caecilus: Models of the Sublime.” Mnemosyne 55.3 (2002): 259-284. JSTOR. Web. 4 Mar. 2010. This article looks at the works of Longinus and Caecilius and compare their theories to that of the predecessors, primarily, Plato. The article emphasizes the fact that Longinus clearly saw flaws and imperfections in Plato’s work, and these flaws are exactly what make Plato’s work genius and worthy of the title of being sublime. For my article, I focused more on the sections regarding Plato and Longinus rather than Caecilius. The idea that Longinus saw Plato as a flawed genius, which leads to true sublimity, helps with my argument that even though the Twilight series may be seen as flawed in concept and writing style, it can still be seen as a form of the sublime.
Moore, Ronald. “Aesthetics for Young People: Problems and Prospects.” Journal of Aesthetic Education 28.3 (1994): 5-18. JSTOR. Web. 27 Feb. 2010. This article focuses on the importance of providing school-age children with an arts education. It explores all the theories that have been developed over the years, starting with Plato, that stress the importance of children studying the arts and theory. The article attempts to debunk the idea that theory is too difficult or too adult for children. This article was not as helpful as I would have liked for my research. I was happy to find an article that stresses the importance of a continued arts education in the public schools, but I was hoping it would provide more information on how to teach children to identify the sublime and not just reasons why we should teach them the sublime.
O’Gorman, Ned. “Longinus’s Sublime Rhetoric, or How Rhetoric Came into Its Own.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 34.2 (2004): 71-89. Literature Resource Center. Web. 27 Feb. 2010. This article emphasizes that Longinus’s “On the Sublime” was a key importance in the creation of the rhetorical studies. The author focuses on many Greek terms, referring to “height” and “nature” as playing roles in rhetoric’s creation. For my research, this article had limited use. The author’s use of frequent ancient Greek words and playing on those meanings made the piece a difficult read for a non-rhetoric major.
Swann, Ken. “The Sublime and the Vulgar.” College English 52.1 (1990): 7-20. JSTOR. Web. 27 Feb. 2010. This article focuses on defining what exactly can be considered sublime versus vulgar literature in comparison to literature that is classified as “Great Books.” Throughout the article, Swann refers consistently to the work of Allan Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind.” Swann attempts to use Bloom’s work to identify the problems the American university system faces with the rise of popular literature in comparison to traditionally “Great Books”, such as Milton’s Paradise Lost. In relation to my work in comparing the Twilight series to the sublime, Swann’s overarching ideas were extremely useful, even though they were contradictory to my own. He seems to feel that the true sublime is being threatened by popular vulgar literature. In the end, Swann feels that the vulgar should be happy with its popularity and not try to take over the role of the sublime.