“Twilight” and “True Blood” fans can quench their vampire thirst this fall with AU’s new course, HIST-296 “Vampire Narratives and American Society.”
In this class, 25 students will analyze how the vampire character reflects American society’s cultural norms throughout history, according to history Professor Katharina Vester.
The course will examine the transformation of the vampire from ugly and scary in the 19th century to the beautiful, egocentric creatures portrayed today, said Vester, who is also the acting director of the American Studies program.
“We will start in the 19th century and look at how xenophobia, fear of immigration, fear of miscegenation and how Americans have taken over the vampire genre in short stories and novels and later movies,” Vester said.
The course will count for history and American studies credit, she said.
Vester said she became interested in vampires two years ago when her godson gave her a copy of “Twilight.”
“I was not interested in reading vampire stories, and then I couldn’t put it down,” Vester said. “It was very engaging and well-written in many regards.”
But Vester said she became concerned by the lessons of teen marriage and pregnancy “Twilight” promoted and began to investigate the change in the vampire’s character in history.
“I thought it was interesting how vampire narratives have changed over the past 20 or 30 years,” Vester said.
Vester said she wants students to leave with a better understanding of how society unknowingly affects culture.
“I want them to understand more about their culture in a critical way, to distance themselves from certain fads to see what their environment is about [and] be critical about hidden messages in cultural products,” Vester said. “We have all these rich vampires who don’t have to work, so what does it say about society when we look at these vampires?”