MLT 260: The Vampire as Other in East European and American Culture
Professor: Kristin Bidoshi
In this course, we will begin by discussing the present distribution of the East European peoples, their prehistory, and their relation to other peoples of Europe and Asia. We will also survey their early culture, including pagan, animistic, and dualistic religious beliefs, and Christianization. Our focus will be the myth of the vampire, which has had enduring power not only in Eastern European folk belief but also in American popular culture right up to the present day. The course will be conducted as a combination of lectures and class discussion (with an occasional film). In our study of vampire beliefs, we will cover a wide variety of topics including:
• Eastern European folk beliefs about the soul, the source of life, fertility, community safety, diseases, comas, and premature burial.
• The coexistence of pagan and Christian practices in Eastern Europe
• Eastern European rites of social passage (mother's purification, infant baptism, girl's coming-of-age, courtship and marriage, death, funeral, and posthumous commemorations)
• The Vampire as Other: Boundary-crossers and their demonization
• Eastern European boundary crossers/folk monsters related to the vampire (the Evil Eye, strigoi, sorcerers, rusalki, navi, mory/incubi, werewolves, etc.)
• The historical Dracula, the Wallachian prince Vlad Tepes-- his life; his positive image in Romanian folklore; and how he came to be a symbol of Evil in Western culture
• The changing image of the vampire from its origins to present day-- East European communal demon; Enlightenment puzzle; Romantic Sublime Hero; Victorian villain; Nietzschean Superman; Hollywood predator; sexual brinksman; and postmodern martyr.
Course packet (including excerpts from The Darkling and Vampires of the Slavs)
Bram Stoker's Dracula
The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories (edited by Alan Ryan)
Course Requirements and Evaluation:
Students will be expected to do the following:
-Come to every class on time
-Do all assigned reading
-Fill out all class discussion questions and participate in class discussions
-Complete a mid-term Exam
-Write a 7-page paper on a topic of their choice
- Present 2 five-minute oral reports
1 Midterm Examination (in-class) 30%
1 Seven-Page (Final) Paper 30%
2 Oral Presentations 10% (5% each)
Quizzes, Discussion Questions, Attendance and Class Participation 30%
93-100 A 78-79 C+
90-92 A- 73-77 C
88-89 B+ 70-72 C-
83-87 B 68-69 D+
80-82 B- 65-67 D
64 & below = E
I assign a grade on each day of class for class participation. Most of the time, if students show up for class on time and know the material they will receive a 5 for that day. Arriving late means the highest grade a student can receive for that day will be a 4+. Also, arriving late more than 3 times equals an absence.
More than 3 absences will result in a lower grade (for example, if a student has an A-, the grade will drop to the B+, and maybe further if absences persist beyond 4).
The key here is advance notice. Students need to let me know in advance that they will be unable to make it to class (a day before is optimal, but half-an-hour before class is the minimum) and need to have a good reason (students should check with me as to what constitutes a “good reason”). The best way to do this is via e-mail
Class Participation and Conduct in the Classroom:
You will be expected to have completed the reading for each class as outlined in the schedule and to actively contribute to class discussion. Before each reading I will hand out discussion questions. On the day the reading is due I will collect these questions. They are graded on a 5-point scale. Even if you have answered these questions in writing, however, I reserve the right to ask you questions about the reading orally to make sure these are your answers and not copied from someone else.
No cell-phone use, texting, internet surfing, emailing, or online social networking is permitted during class! This includes in-class screenings of films! You will be asked to leave the class and will a zero for that class if this behavior occurs (if you are going to need to take an emergency phone call, you need to let me know in advance). I don’t mind food or beverages in the classroom, but please use discretion (do not bring your entire bacon-egg-n-cheese macmanwich into the classroom, that’s just rude to the others). Whatever it is, it should not impair your ability to take part in class discussion. If so, I’ll ask you to put it away.
Plagiarism and Academic Honesty:
I take academic honesty extremely seriously. If it is discovered that a student has cheated or plagiarized on any of the work associated with this course (including discussion questions), that student will be given a zero for that assignment, paper, test. etc., and the Dean of Studies will be notified immediately.
Plagiarism in this course is defined in the following way:
1. In regard to all assignments (including homework, class work, response papers, tests, etc.), plagiarism occurs when a student submits something he/she has labeled or said is his/her own work, when, in fact, it is the work (either partially or in its totality) of another (either another student, the work of a faculty member, and/or the work and/or ideas of anyone else in any format; print, online, television, person-to-person conversation, etc.).
2. Specifically regarding writing assignments, I want to additionally cite the definition used in A Pocket Style Manual, “Three acts are considered plagiarism: (1) failing to cite quotations and borrowed ideas, (2) failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks, and (3) failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words” (Hacker 107).
If you cannot complete an assignment, please let me know ahead of time or, in the worst case scenario, right after the fact (i.e., the day it is due). I always prefer honesty over lying and sneakiness. Lying and sneakiness (this refers specifically, but not exclusively, to the act of pretending you have done an assignment when you have not) will always result in an F for that assignment, paper, test, etc.
Students with disabilities can approach me in any way they feel comfortable: after class or at my office (if not during office hours, please notify me in advance). Please let me know as soon as possible (i.e., as soon as you have your accommodation letter). The student should have his/her accommodation letter in hand for me to verify.
Hacker, Diana, et al. A Pocket Style Manual. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2009. Print
Introduction to course
Syllabus and course requirements/textbooks/surveys/Overview of course
1. The Image of the Vampire in Eastern Europe and America (Slide Show)
2. What comprises Eastern Europe (home of the vampires?)
3. Essential information on the beliefs of Eastern European peoples, which form the background for the emergence of vampires. Eastern Europe between Paganism and Christianity –Dualism and Dvoeverie – Quick intro-Forces of Evil. (Intro to TV. Series - True Blood).
4. Preparation for reading the work of Jan Perkowski
Wednesday Read: “The Vampire: A Study in Slavic Bi-Culturalism” by Jan L. Perkowski (Course pack)
Read “Poetic Views of the Slavs Regarding Nature” by Aleksandr N. Afanas’ev (Course pack).
1. In what context does the vampire emerge? What is the belief system of the people who believe in vampires? Which characteristics of vampires relate to the pagan or Christian belief systems?
3. Why does the vampire emerge? What is it used to explain? How is it connected to natural phenomena?
4. What differences do you notice between the Eastern European (folkloric) vampire and our own American version? What details about the Eastern European vampire surprised/shocked you? Can you say what these details point to?
5. Countries and regions of Eastern Europe (their languages, religion, etc.)
6. Blood cults
7. Dualism (Night Watch)
Monday Read “A Recent Vampire Death” Jan L. Perkowski (Course pack)
Read “The Romanian Folkloric Vampire” Jan L. Perkowski (Course pack)
Read “Vampires, Dwarves, And Witches Among The Ontario Kashubs” by Jan L. Perkowski (Course pack)
Read “Slavic Folk Culture” by Kazimierz Moszynski (Course pack)
1. Perkowski’s 10-point system
2. Dualism (continued)
3. Dvoeverie – The Dual Faith of the Slavs (acceptance of Christianity and pagan beliefs).
Wednesday Read “Wet, Dry, and the Evil Eye: An Essay in the Indo-European and Semitic Worldview” by Alan Dundes (Handout)
1. The problem of evil and “the limited good” (part 1)
2. Viewing of excerpt of film “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”
Monday Read “The Three Brothers” – Serbian folk tale (Course pack)
Read “The Family of the Vurdulak” by A. K. Tolstoy (Course pack)
1. The problem of evil and “the limited good” (part 2)
2. Discussion of stories and film
3. Last-minute instructions on oral presentations
Wednesday 5- Minute oral presentations on countries of East Europe.
Monday Read: “Origins of the European Vampire” by Jan L. Perkowski (Course pack)
Read “Polish Funeral Customs and Vampire Beliefs” (Handout)
Read “Forensic Pathology and the European Vampire” (Course pack)
1. The deep, deep origins of vampirism – Decoding myths
2. Heliolatry, Mithraism, Manichaeism, Bogomilism, Polish funeral customs
3. Vampire disinterment and decomposition
5-Minute oral presentations on countries of East Europe (con’t)
1. Film and Discussion of X-Files “Bad Blood”
2. Review for Mid-term (if time)
Monday Midterm Exam
Wednesday Read: “Dracula the Vampire” by Jan L. Perkowski (Course pack)
1. The development of the Dracula myth
2. Differences between the Slavic and English literary vampire
Film Nosferatu (part 1)
Monday Film Nosferatu (part 2)
Wednesday Read “The English Literary Vampire” by Jan L. Perkowski (Course pack)
Read “The Vampyre” (1819) by John Polidori (Penguin Book of Vampire Stories ).
Read “Varney the Vampyre, or, The Feast of Blood” by James Malcolm Rymer (Penguin Book of Vampire Stories)
Monday Read Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (Penguin Book of Vampire Stories).
The image of the vampire in Carmilla.
The Vampire as Other
Wednesday Read Stoker’s Dracula (Part 1: Chapters 1-16)
Submit Topic for Final Paper
Monday Read Stoker’s Dracula (Part 2)
Wednesday Read Stoker’s Dracula (Chapters 17-27 to the end)
Monday The Image of Dracula in American Film: The Vampire in American Culture
Bela Lugosi/The Hammer Series
Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Vampires and deviant behavior
Rough Draft of Final Paper Due
Wednesday Read "The Mindworm" (Penguin Book of Vampire Stories).
Read “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes” (Penguin Book of Vampire Stories).
Discussion of current Vampire films and TV mini-series
Monday Student Reports on Vampires in American culture
Wednesday Student Reports on Vampires in American culture
Final Drafts of Final Paper Due