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Interm 2011

English W44A

This course challenges the claim that the current interest in vampires is a “recent” one. In fact, great interest in vampires has bubbled up at several points in history, and it will be the task of the class to determine how these responses have been similar or unique. We will proceed by examining the development of the vampire mythos in England and Europe, and our texts will include vampire stories from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, including, of course, Dracula. We will read these texts in the context of their reception by original audiences and try to determine if those responses are comparable to those by audiences of today. We will also examine a couple of “vampire epidemics” that occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries. Newspapers at both times diligently reported on what was thought to be sudden plagues of vampires in their communities and we will consider what features of those cultures might explain the “appearance” of vampires. Our exploration of the history of vampire literature will also cause us to ask more fundamental questions such as “What characteristics does a creature need to possess in order to be considered a vampire?” and “Are the Twilight films and The Vampire Diaries TV series actually vampire stories?” Finally we will frame our exploration by looking at theoretical responses to vampires and vampire literature. These will range from Augustus Montague Summers’ The Vampire, his Kith and Kin, published in 1928, to 20th century texts. Students will read a collection of vampire literature from various genres and see six films. Evaluation is based on a group digital research project on either the 18th century vampirism epidemic in eastern Europe or on the current reception of Twilight and one-page response papers for each of the readings. This course may fulfill an elective in the English major. J. Williams. 8:30 a.m. to noon.