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deconstructing twilightDr. Donna Ashcraft, professor of psychology at Clarion University, recently published a book, “Deconstructing Twilight: Psychological and Feminist Perspectives on the Series.”

Using feminist and psychological theory, “Deconstructing Twilight” examines the behavior, relationships and gender roles depicted in the popular “Twilight” series.  Including perspectives from both fans and detractors of the series, it discusses whether the character Bella, and the series in general, is antifeminist or an example of modern feminism, and whether the relationship between Bella and Edward is healthy or maladjusted.

Ashcraft developed the idea for the book when her daughters, pre-teens at the time, became interested in the “Twilight” series.

“I thought it would be a fun experience to share with them, because I thought a vampire and werewolf story would be fun,” Ashcraft said. “But as I started to read them, I was really struck by how traditional the stories were and concerned about the effect such traditional gender role depictions could potentially have on their young adult readership.”

Integrating research findings and theories in the areas of personality and social psychology, as well as scenes from the novels and surveys of readers, “Deconstructing Twilight” separates myth from reality regarding the series’ depictions of women, men, romantic relationships and motherhood. A social learning perspective is employed to demonstrate the effect the novels can have on gender role formation and the development of relationship scripts in young adult readers. Social psychological concepts are used to explain and integrate the discrepant views of fans and critics.

In addition to “Desconstructing Twilight,” Ashcraft edited and wrote three chapters in “Women's Work: A Survey of Scholarship by and About Women,” an introductory women's studies text. Her “Personality Theories Workbook” is currently in its 5th edition and she is working on its 6th edition.

Ashcraft received her bachelor's degree from Buffalo State College and her master's and doctorate degrees from The State University of New York at Albany. One of the founding mothers of the Women’s Studies program, she has taught at Clarion University since 1988.  Books can be purchased at, and

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.

1/29/2013 10:04 AM

Ashcraft publishes book exploring feminism in ‘Twilight’ series