Crossover Literature and Age in Crisis at the Turn of the 21st Century

Harry Potter’s Kidults and the Twilight Moms

University of Siegen

Language:

Maria Verena Peters (geb. Siebert)

Maria Verena Peters (née Siebert) studied British and American literary and cultural studies and comparative literary studies at Ruhr-University Bochum. She received her PhD in literary and cultural studies at the Siegen University. Her dissertation on Crossover Literature and Age in Crisis at the Turn of the 21st Century was first published in 2018 by universi. Currently, Dr Peters is coordinating a mentoring program for female scientists at FernUniversität in Hagen. Her research has been sponsored by the Fulbright Commission and the Kölner Gymnasial- and Stiftungsfond.

Let's have a?

Expertise

  • Literature and Cultural Studies (North America and Great Britain)
  • Language practice and creative writing

Of interest to

  • Age Studies
  • Fan Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • Harry Potter fans
  • Twilight fans
Darwin Vegher/Unsplash
Maria Verena Peters (geb. Siebert)

Maria Verena Peters (née Siebert) studied British and American literary and cultural studies and comparative literary studies at Ruhr-University Bochum. She received her PhD in literary and cultural studies at the Siegen University. Her dissertation on Crossover Literature and Age in Crisis at the Turn of the 21st Century was first published in 2018 by universi. Currently, Dr Peters is coordinating a mentoring program for female scientists at FernUniversität in Hagen. Her research has been sponsored by the Fulbright Commission and the Kölner Gymnasial- and Stiftungsfond.

Let's have a?

Expertise

  • Literature and Cultural Studies (North America and Great Britain)
  • Language practice and creative writing

Of interest to

  • Age Studies
  • Fan Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • Harry Potter fans
  • Twilight fans

Interview

Anja Zeltner
Author

Did you grow up with Harry Potter and the Twilight saga? What is your relationship to your dissertation topic?

Maria Verena Peters (geb. Siebert)
is typing…
Anja Zeltner
Freie Autorin

Did you grow up with Harry Potter and the Twilight saga? What is your relationship to your dissertation topic?

Maria Verena Peters (geb. Siebert)
Doktorandin

I arrived at my dissertation topic mostly by chance and through my interest in gothic fiction. During a stay in the United Kingdom near the end of my Master’s programme, I bought a recently published vampire novel by a completely unknown author, “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer. A few months later, back in Germany, I was quite surprised by the media attention this book and its fans received. The Harry Potter series seemed to me to be a fitting comparison. I was interested in how in both cases identities, especially with regard to age, were defined and negotiated over a single cultural product.

Anja Zeltner
Freie Autorin

What does the term "kidult" mean in your dissertation?

Maria Verena Peters (geb. Siebert)
Doktorandin

Kidult is a blend word consisting of "kid" and "adult". It is used, mostly derogatorily, to describe adults who consume products that were originally intended for children. These adults are accused of refusing to "grow up" properly. 

Anja Zeltner
Freie Autorin

Do the books you study indicate a crisis of growing up?

Maria Verena Peters (geb. Siebert)
Doktorandin

In my analysis of the "kidult" discourse about the adult readers of Harry Potter and Twilight, I try to emphasize that the existence of so-called "kidults" does not indicate a crisis of growing up, but rather that the definition of growing up is subject to cultural change and has always been so. Looking more closely, it quickly becomes clear that growing up is not a natural, but a constructed process that is only part of other constructs or ideologies such as heteronormativity, patriarchy or capitalism. Those who stigmatize others as "kidults" usually do so, fearing a loss of their own privileges through this cultural change.

Keywords

All-age literature, Crossover literature, Harry Potter, Twilight

Summary

At the turn of the 21st century, the widely visible popularity of children’s and young adult literature with adult readers lead literary and social critics to ask whether the inhabitants of Western culture were refusing to grow up. Whilst books had been crossing over the line between the adult and children’s book market ever since the separation into two markets had been introduced, the perceived rise in this traffic led to a felt crisis concerning age and identity. At the example of the Harry Potter and the Twilight novels, Maria Verena Peters analyzes the discourse about childhood, coming of age and adulthood inside and outside the pages of children’s and young adult literature as the 20th century came to an end and a new millennium was beginning. Her analysis suggests that this discourse was determined by an anxiety that without the patriarchal, heterosexual, nuclear family, age cannot serve to produce meaningful identity categories. Beyond the policing of gender and sexuality, the discourse of age in crisis – as the examples of Harry Potter’s kidults and the Twilight moms serve to show – also functions to naturalize notions of class and consumption. In addition to the prominent two novel series of the title, the PhD thesis covers a wide range of popular culture artefacts, from Near Dark to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and from The Big Bang Theory to Hotter than my Daughter. It builds upon key findings of fan studies to uncover the intersectionality of age, gender, class and consumption in the marketing, reception and critique of children’s and young adult literature.

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The full text of this dissertation is available on OpenD. Online and OpenAccess.

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Suggested citation

Peters, Maria Verena. Crossover Literature and Age in Crisis at the Turn of the 21st Century: Harry Potter’s Kidults and the Twilight Moms. Universität Siegen, 2018, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:hbz:467-13280.

Repository

dspace.ub.uni-siegen.de

Identifiers

urn: urn:nbn:de:hbz:467-13280

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