Media Releases

Vampire literature course lets students get a good look at the myth

January 11, 2012

TORONTO, ON – The pri­ma­ry focus of the class might not be on Twi­light, Buffy the Vam­pire Slay­er or The Vam­pire Diaries, but the resurg­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of vam­pires has cer­tain­ly helped stim­u­late inter­est in the first-year Ger­man stud­ies course Our Vam­pires, Our­selves.

“It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing sub­ject,” says Erol Boran, the Ger­man department’s asso­ciate chair of under­grad­u­ate stud­ies. “Per­haps stu­dents see them­selves in vam­pires. That’s what makes them attrac­tive. Peo­ple think about them because they are very much like us.”

When, back in the mid-1990s, Boran set out to write his MA the­sis on the sub­ject of vam­pires in lit­er­a­ture, his super­vi­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Würzburg was skep­ti­cal, deem­ing vam­pires not wor­thy of aca­d­e­m­ic study. But the ‘Stok­er year’ 1997, 100 years after Bram Stoker’s Drac­u­la, changed every­thing, and now vam­pires not only pop­u­late film and lit­er­a­ture, but have also become the focus of schol­ar­ly inter­est.

Boran cre­at­ed the course two years ago and named it after a book by Nina Auer­bach. Asked why he chose to design and teach a course on vam­pires when his research inter­est has long since moved to minor­i­ty stud­ies, Boran responds: “I thought I’d revis­it vam­pires because they keep revis­it­ing me. And, if you think about it, vam­pires can con­cep­tu­al­ly be per­ceived as anoth­er minor­i­ty. The series True Blood, for instance, uses this con­cept very suc­cess­ful­ly. In gen­er­al, it is intrigu­ing to see the dif­fer­ent guis­es in which vam­pires appear in var­i­ous cul­tures. They pro­vide a mir­ror image of human beings and social con­stel­la­tions.”

Even though vam­pires can’t see their own reflec­tions, the course Boran cre­at­ed lets oth­ers get a good look at the myth, and through it, them­selves. They focus on Drac­u­la for the first six weeks, and the sec­ond part of the course is devot­ed to stu­dent pre­sen­ta­tions on con­tem­po­rary vam­pire images. The class had an enthu­si­as­tic response in its first two years, and Boran will bring it back again next year.

“Ulti­mate­ly, I try to stim­u­late less an inter­est in vam­pires, that’s just a fas­ci­nat­ing sub­ject in our imag­i­na­tion,” he says. “The impor­tant thing is to make peo­ple think and devel­op some kind of struc­tured approach to crit­i­cal think­ing. I’d also like to get peo­ple more inter­est­ed in lit­er­a­ture, if pos­si­ble more Ger­man lit­er­a­ture, and more aware of cul­ture.” Our Vam­pires, Our­selves is offered through the Fac­ul­ty of Arts and Sci­ence First-Year Sem­i­nars (199Y) Pro­gram.



For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:

Jes­si­ca Lewis
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
(416) 978‑8887