Location

Panel 17: Kearney 317

Start Date

27-10-2012 10:15 AM

End Date

27-10-2012 11:45 AM

Description

This paper presents three culturally significant and connected texts, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, and The Southern Vampire Mysteries / True Blood respectively, as negotiating the complexity of subjectivity in 21st century American popular culture. Drawing on diverse western theories of the subjectivity, these three texts are shown to explore the contradictions of various dominant notions of the subject and to manifest a cultural anxiety surrounding the presence of contradictory, simultaneous, and overlapping discourses of personhood.

The texts’ place in the genre traditions of romance and fantasy are used to structure the textual analysis. Using key motifs and conventions of these genres, the texts explore contemporary issues, in particular the viability of Enlightenment and postmodern modes of subjectivity. This is achieved through the utilisation of history, place, myth, and legend within each text. The Twilight Saga creates a cult figure in Carlisle, and the new society he forms is in direct opposition to a corrupt ‘old world’ status-quo. The Vampire Diaries turns to, and reinvents, myths of the origins of human society as a family, the Original Family, altering (in a doubling back fashion) the history of migration of Europeans to North America. True Blood presents the creatures of myth and legend (Maenads, shapeshifters, and so forth) in the context of social and political bids for power in the symbolically loaded imagined space of the ‘American South’. Each displays a conflict between different ideas of the subject from liberal visions of the rational individual with attendant rights and responsibilities to postmodern images of the subject as fluid, in-flux, impossible to delineate strictly or permanently, to psychoanalytic understandings of the subject as motivated by unconscious drives barely contained by civilisation.

The relationship to and interdependency of identity on a larger society both past and present is foregrounded in each of the texts. However, the particular resolution, or attempt at resolution, in each text is different. The proposed resolutions to problematised subjectivities of each text are discussed and contrasted in this paper. The paper ultimately posits that, though these texts have different ideological allegiances, they all reflect an important cultural anxiety of contemporary times, namely, the difficulty of action other than violence in the face of complexity.

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Oct 27th, 10:15 AM Oct 27th, 11:45 AM

Complex subjects in Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, and True Blood

Panel 17: Kearney 317

This paper presents three culturally significant and connected texts, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, and The Southern Vampire Mysteries / True Blood respectively, as negotiating the complexity of subjectivity in 21st century American popular culture. Drawing on diverse western theories of the subjectivity, these three texts are shown to explore the contradictions of various dominant notions of the subject and to manifest a cultural anxiety surrounding the presence of contradictory, simultaneous, and overlapping discourses of personhood.

The texts’ place in the genre traditions of romance and fantasy are used to structure the textual analysis. Using key motifs and conventions of these genres, the texts explore contemporary issues, in particular the viability of Enlightenment and postmodern modes of subjectivity. This is achieved through the utilisation of history, place, myth, and legend within each text. The Twilight Saga creates a cult figure in Carlisle, and the new society he forms is in direct opposition to a corrupt ‘old world’ status-quo. The Vampire Diaries turns to, and reinvents, myths of the origins of human society as a family, the Original Family, altering (in a doubling back fashion) the history of migration of Europeans to North America. True Blood presents the creatures of myth and legend (Maenads, shapeshifters, and so forth) in the context of social and political bids for power in the symbolically loaded imagined space of the ‘American South’. Each displays a conflict between different ideas of the subject from liberal visions of the rational individual with attendant rights and responsibilities to postmodern images of the subject as fluid, in-flux, impossible to delineate strictly or permanently, to psychoanalytic understandings of the subject as motivated by unconscious drives barely contained by civilisation.

The relationship to and interdependency of identity on a larger society both past and present is foregrounded in each of the texts. However, the particular resolution, or attempt at resolution, in each text is different. The proposed resolutions to problematised subjectivities of each text are discussed and contrasted in this paper. The paper ultimately posits that, though these texts have different ideological allegiances, they all reflect an important cultural anxiety of contemporary times, namely, the difficulty of action other than violence in the face of complexity.