Junior Research Seminar: Vampires Since the Victorians
The vampire is one of the most iconic figures of the past two hundred years; yet it’s hard to imagine that Count Dracula and Edward Cullen belong to the same species of monster. When did vampires stop being defined primarily as apex predators that hunt in shadow and become instead a collection of lovable misfits who yearn to belong? To address the changes of the vampire mythology overtime, this course will examine the vampire as a shifting cluster of ideas that offers important insights into the fears and fantasies of the cultures that produced them. By unpacking the racial attitudes, sexual energies, and body/blood sciences that went into making the vampire, we will assemble a working understanding of the political and psychological significance of vampire stories. The syllabus will introduce students to the literary genres, visual culture, and conventions of portraiture and film from which the image of the vampire emerges. Possible authors may include George Eliot, Bram Stoker, Karl Marx and Anne Rice. Potential films include Blade, Let the Right One In, and What We Do in the Shadows, as well as episodes from the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and True Blood.
This course is a Junior Research Seminar, designed to familiarize students with research methods and current scholarship in the field of literary studies. Requirements include a short summary of a piece of literary criticism from the syllabus, a close reading midterm paper, and a final research paper (10-15pp.) or creative project.