Interview with Dr Maria Verena Peters (née 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.
- 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
Did you grow up with Harry Potter and the Twilight saga? What is your relationship to your dissertation topic?
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.
What does the term "kidult" mean in your dissertation?
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.
Do the books you study indicate a crisis of growing up?
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.
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