English | Intro Writing & Study of Lit 2
L142 | 6786 | Adams


ENG L142
Intro Writing & Study of Literature 2
Professor: Michael Adams

Topic: Vampires

Lecture:
6786     MW     11:15a - 12:05p     WH 101
Discussion:
6787     TR     10:10a - 11:00a     BH 235
10827    TR     10:10a - 11:00a     BH 137
6788     TR     11:15a - 12:05p     BH 137
6789     TR     11:15a - 12:05p     BH 134
6790     TR     12:20p - 1:10p      BH 147

Nearly every culture in the world has vampires or something like
them in its folklore. The universality of the vampire story suggests
the universality of some of the themes it illustrates, the
relationships among Death, Sex, Life, Sex, Immortality, Sex, Power,
Sex, and Desire. The Vampire simultaneiously attracts and repels;
it's not alive, but it's also not dead, at least not in the
conventional sense: it's undead. Vampires stand for paradox implicit
in the relationships described above. They evade physical and
spiritual limitations, but there's a price (sometimes more than one)
for the evasion. In some cultures, at some times, such evasion is
unnatural and horrific; in others, it is liberating and attractive.
The American Vampire, for instance, transcends history and
geography: by living through all time and in many places, it offers
the prospect of universal knowledge while maintaining something like
innocence (if you have seen the film of Interview With a Vampire,
think of Kirsten Dunst's child-vampire character, for instance). The
Vampire, though , is an enigma without a solution. Or, put it
another way, because the Vampire is fundamentally a paradox, it's up
to each time and place to make sense of that paradox on its own
terms. In this course, we'll study the structural similarities of
vampire stories, but we'll also consider how different cultures at
different times emphasize different things about the legend, how
they develoop and embellish it to reflect their particular needs.
So, the jiang shi or Chinese "Hopping Ghost," a soul stealer, is
like a vampire, but not quite the same; the New England Vampire
struggles with Puritanism; Dracula is embedded in the history of Old
Europe; the Rwandan genocide was accomplished by accusations of
vampirism along ethnic lines; Werner Herzog's Nosferatu represents
20th century (German) angst, while Buffy's vampires, at least some
of them, are angsty in a very American way. Goth subculture,
Japanese manga, Hong Kong martial arts movies, German New Wave
cinema, the novel, the story, television: everyone wants a piece of
the vampire and understands it simultaneously in terms of a place, a
time, a zeitgeist, a genre. The Vampire is a sort of permanent
Other: cultures define whatever their Other is on the basis of who
they are; in fact, the Other, which "we" create, is often an
unknowing expression of who "we" are. The Vampire, in other words,
is totally zeitgeisty.

REading and Viewing: Reading for the course will include Montague
Summer's The Vampire in Lore and Legend (1928); Bram Stoker's
Dracula (1898) and Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire (1989),
and Stephanie Meyers' Twilight. In addition, we will view F.W.
Murnau's silent film, Nosferatu (1922), Werner Herzog's Nosferatu
(1978), as well as a few episodes each of Joss Whedon's television
series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and Angel (1999-2004);
the vampire soap opera, Dark Shadows (1966-1970); and HBO's current
hit, True Blood.