The Vampire in Literature and Film, Extended



so we'll certainly begin with the major 19th century novels and poems because these established the vampire genre but the real focus of the course will be on 20th and 21st century literature we're also going to consider vampire film the way in which a lot of very distinguished filmmakers have been attracted to this genre and have made some really unusual vampire films in in recent years one of the other things that we'll be doing in the course besides the reading last and besides the film's is will actually investigate some current literary theory to help us understand the way in which these novels work because what I want us to be able to think about is both the literal level of story but how also the stories can be interpreted from a psychological a socio-political a gender-related perspective and even the new way of talking about the body in some in some forms this is described as disability theory and other forms body theory because the story of the vampire does have to do with the difference between the creatures body and the mortal body and what happens to the mortal body when it has this encounter with the undead it's not just a story about vampirism it may be a story about something else that's being told in an encoded way but what we know for sure is that whatever anxieties the present age has been feeling this story has had a wonderfully recyclable ability to communicate those anxieties so it's been a vehicle for talking about sexuality about abstinence particularly in the 80s about hiv/aids a lot of people have seen the vampire as a story about bad blood so to speak and about the transmission of bad blood and so on it's also been a way of talking about adolescent anxiety the sort of general sense of outside earnest that some people feel people who are different in some way it's been used to talk about colonialism it's been used to talk about economic domination and power and it has certainly been used as a way of talking about religious doubt and religious despair I mean one of the very interesting changes that one sees in recent vampire literature and recent vampire films that was very much part of the nineteenth-century novel and very much a part of the earlier vampire films is the way in which religion has almost totally disappeared as a way of defeating evil and it's almost eliminated entirely from recent films unless it is to demonstrate the ineffectual T of religion I hope lots of different perspectives like this will enable us to see how very rich this myth is and will help us to understand therefore its ongoing attraction to readers and to and to viewers of films and so on because it's not just an ordinary horror story it's not just an ordinary myth it's a very particular kind of myth it's very old it goes back even before the ancient Greeks because there were always stories of the union between a mortal and an immortal there's always been that fascination with the possibility of extending one's life of defeating death of finding some trick or some mechanism that would make it possible to become part of the realm of the immortal and yet at the same time to continue to enjoy the things that you like best about being human so I think the course will be a lot of work but I think that most of these works of literature are so fascinating and so interesting that it's going to be very pleasant work you

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