OverviewThis module introduces students to a range of nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century literary and cinematic representations of vampires from different cultural backgrounds. It explores the reasons for the abiding allure of the figure of the vampire both in popular culture and in literary fiction. The module examines the ways in which vampires function as polyvalent symbols of specifically modern preoccupations, for the emergence and popularity of vampire tales is intricately bound up with the advent and wider cultural ramifications of modernity. What do vampires represent in each of the works discussed, and what hidden desires and anxieties do they allow authors and filmmakers to express? The vampire is an allegorically highly potent figure which is suspended between life and death and between animal and human existence. Vampires frequently serve as foils to discuss more contentious matters, in particular questions relating to sexuality, gender roles, class, immortality and the desire for everlasting youth, being an outsider, and addiction. Texts and films to be studied include John Polidoris The Vampyre (1819), Théophile Gautiers Clarimonde (1836), J. Sheridan Le Fanus Carmilla (1872), Bram Stokers Dracula (1897), F. W. Murnaus and Werner Herzogs Nosferatu adaptations (1922 and 1979), Angela Carters The Lady of the House of Love (1979), Neil Jordans Interview with the Vampire (1994) and Stephenie Meyers Twilight (2005)
This module appears in:
2 hours per week
Available in both the Autumn and Spring Term
Method of assessment
Indicative Reading List -
John Polidori, The Vampyre (1819)
Théophile Gautier, Clarimonde (1836),
J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Carmilla (1872)
Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897)
Angela Carter, The Lady of the House of Love (1979)
Stephenie Meyer, Twilight (2005)
Indicative Viewing List:
F.W. Murnau, Nosferatu (1922)
Werner Herzog, Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
Neil Jordan, Interview with the Vampire (1994)
By the end of the module, students will be able:
a) To show knowledge and critical of understanding of a range of different nineteenth-, twentieth- and twenty-first-century representations of vampires in literature and film.
b) To demonstrate understanding of the cultural, literary, political and historical contexts which shape the representations of vampires in specific works.
c) To reflect critically on the persistent metaphorical allure of the figure of the vampire in popular culture, and to apply insights gained from this reflection in other literary and cultural contexts.
d) To assess critically the distinctive features and symbolical meanings of nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century representations of vampires.
e) To examine the ways in which writers and directors have deployed the figure of the vampire to explore questions relating to a diverse range of subjects, including sexuality, immortality, being an outsider, addiction and monstrosity, and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the comparative approach in answering these questions.