Date of Award

6-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Abstract

There is an explicit need for the education system to expand the current canon to integrate popular literature into middle and high school classrooms. Students at these levels are being underexposed to this group of texts in the classroom, but many are plunging themselves into contemporary works at home. The authors of young adult books are aiming their texts to reach out to those learning at the secondary level, while many of the books being taught there were originated for the general amusement of an entirely different generation and age group. For the purpose of this paper the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer will serve as a model of contemporary author deliberately using and challenging the devices of classic literature within her own work. Not only will Meyer's work be explored side by side with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, and Charlotte Bronte' s Jane Eyre because of their common theme as love stories, but also because of the minor parallels between each text that Meyer illuminates by bringing her predecessors' works into her own text. Along with this, the way in which Meyer's vampire are similar to or recreate the vampires of Bram Stoker's iconic novel Dracula will be discussed. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling will be an example of a contemporary work that educators can use to draw connections between popular and canonical literature where the author does not mention classic pieces of literature. Harry Potter will be places alongside other orphans of literature like those found in Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Not only will these texts be discussed as orphan texts, but also as pieces of literature in which power struggles are driving forces. In addition, the future implications that popular literature has for the classroom will be explored.

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