College of Arts and Sciences | The Vampire in European & American Culture (COLL)
S103 | 14331 | Jeff Holdeman

TuTh 1:00-2:15pm

The vampire is one of the most popular and enduring images in the
world, giving rise to hundreds of monster movies around the globe
every year; not to mention novels, short stories, plays, TV shows,
and commercial merchandise.  Ye the Western vampire image that we
know from the film, television, and literature of today is very
different from its eastern European progenitor.  Nina Auerback has
said that "every age creates the vampire that it needs."  In this
course we will explore the eastern European origins of the vampire,
similar entities in other cultures that predate them, and how the
vampire in its look, nature, vulnerabilities, and threat has changed
over the centuries.

This approach will provide us with the means to learn about
geography, village and urban cultures, traditional social structure,
and religions of eastern Europe: the nature and manifestations of
Evil and the concept of Limited God; physical, temporal, and
societal boundaries and ritual passage that accompany them; the
major historical and intellectual periods (the settlement of Europe,
the Age of Reason, Romanticism, Neo-classicism, the Enlightenment,
the Victoria era, up to today).  We will examine how the vampire
first manifested itself in European literature and how it "shape-
shifted" its way into the entertainment (and commercial) media of
today, through numerous and various readings of fictional,
ethnographic, and scholarly works, not only from the U.S. and Europe
but from around the world.

By the end of the course, students will be able to discuss the
origins, classifications, functions, natures, and evolution of the
vampire and what that can tell us about historical period and our
own contemporary cultures.