Maybe we had found the perfect moment in history, the perfect balance between the monstrous and the human, the time when the ‘vampire romance’ born in my imagination […] should find its greatest enhancement (Lestat).
It is seven years since I first invited vampires into the academy and I’m looking forward to meeting the new cohort of MA students who will accompany me on my latest journey into literary vampirism. My vampire course: Reading the Vampire: Science, Sexuality and Alterity in Modern Culture will run for twelve weeks from January as part of the Modern Literary Cultures MA Programme at the University of Hertfordshire.
I am changing up and adding in a few texts this year to avoid any overlap with Generation Dead: Young Adult Fiction and the Gothic (my module at level six). Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian will feature for the first time in relation to folklore and history (and paired with Sedgwick). I’ll also include Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula which will kickstart some debates around postmodernism and introduce the idea of intertextuality ahead of some paranormal romance (YA vampire texts from the twenty-first century). The Open Graves, Open Minds book is out in paperback too so students can purchase this ahead of the course and dip into the lively collection of essays.
I learnt this week that the British Library is running a short five week course on vampires for Hallowe’en and it looks hugely enjoyable. I wish I could go back to the beginning and sign up myself (though there is a not so small fee). You can view the schedule here. It involves friends of OGOM Catherine Spooner and Stacey Abbott; we all contributed to the vampire book above. The session by Greg Buzzwell offers the most potential for enthusiasts and involves rare manuscripts and access to vampire material from the archives. There are only 16 places and the course is aimed at adult learners. It is not assessed and so it is a very different animal to ‘Reading the Vampire’ which is MA accredited and involves students writing independent research projects on their chosen vampire related topics.
I will be on research leave from September to January and will not be teaching in the first semester. Instead I will be completing the paperwork for OGOM to become an internationally recognised research centre and applying for a Readership. I will also be grappling with the exhibition and funding bid for Books of Blood in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust and working with Bill to get the Company of Wolves: Werewolves, Shapeshifters and Feral Humans manuscript submitted to MUP. I’ll be focussing on folklore and working on a brand new book proposal. In light of this OGOM’s Kaja Franck will be stepping up to teach Generation Dead (having submitted her PhD thesis round about the same time (fingers crossed)). She has already been working on the course material and will be blogging about her experiences of teaching and researching in this area in the autumn. Go Kaja!!
It’s all very exciting and I just can’t wait to get down to the British Library and begin juggling my many projects….vampires are certainly in vogue in the fall so don’t leave home without your garlic!