Monsters in our closets

What with all of my non-literate students suddenly becoming “Twilight literate”, I’ve been thinking about monsters a lot.  My students have also been thinking about monsters, so getting them to do research projects is becoming really easy: remind me to send Stephenie Meyer a thank-you note.

One student has gone so far as to read Wuthering Heights because it was mentioned in Eclipse, and she wanted to see if Heathcliff could be a vampire.

My daughter, firmly in the grasp of the vampire-wannabe culture, read Pete Hautman’s Sweetblood, which started her researching the causes of the myths.  She’s finding it interesting, and has started looking at her diabetic father in a different light.

In China, vampires and werewolves are not a popular subject of discussion amongst teenagers, even though they both exist in legend and myth; ghosts are the supernatural entity of choice.  While all Chinese teenagers are really quite interested in the ghost stories, it is only the “uneducated” who would be seen with a book on the subject.  Ghost movies are alright though, as you are then deliberately taking a break from your studies, so it’s fine to take a break from all the truly important things in life.

Ghosts aren’t important?

Seems to me, if you believe they exist, you would wanna know about them, no?  Whatever….

Anyway, my Chinese students frequently ask me to tell them a ghost story, and we tend to “study” Halloween beginning in August and ending the minute I make them switch over to the Christmas stuff.  It doesn’t seem to matter what the culture may be, there is certainly an age where students become interested in checking out all the horrible things parents don’t want them to know about.

The monsters we create, they are just aspects of humans and our world.  Why can’t the supernatural truly exist?  Because it is nothing which doesn’t already exist in nature, and such things cannot be re-made as something more than what it is.  The stories we write about our monsters have such a fierce resemblance to real life it makes me sad: ghosts are not the only creatures to experience uncontrollable rage; Frankenstein’s monster is not the only son unloved by his father; one does not have to be an immortal vampire to become lonely from living too long.

I love using myths and legends to teach literature; perhaps we should be using them to teach history, as well.

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