Vampire Lit Lures Students at VCU 

Class charts bloodsucker's evolution from ghastly goul to teen heartthrob.

It's an old story: Boy meets girl, boy sneaks into girl's room and gnaws on her neck, girl joins ranks of the undead, boy turns into a large bat and flits out a window.

With one foot in eastern European lore and the other straddling 21st-century popular culture, vampire legends are now the topic of a Virginia Commonwealth University literature course, Vampires from Dracula to Twilight, which explores the birth of the original undead bloodsucker and his seemingly eternal life in pop culture.

The class charts his bizarre evolution from ghastly ghoul to lisping breakfast cereal pitchman to irresistible teen heartthrob. 

English professor John Brinegar tapped this vampire artery in an attempt to grab the attention of students: “The impetus for offering this was basically that since the English Department is now offering large classes to nonmajors, we're trying to find topics that large numbers of people are already interested in.”

It's worked. With 220 students currently enrolled, Brinegar says he rebuffs frequent requests for overrides to get into the class.

And while he freely admits to leaching onto a popular phenomenon in a vain attempt to keep students from sleeping during class, Brinegar says there's also plenty of reason to explore the myth of the vampire.

After all, the vampire — though an iconic character in literature and lore — is also experiencing an image-transforming rebirth at the hands of modern authors. It's the sort of societal makeover that other bloodthirsty undead murderers can only dream of.

“They're cool, they're strong, they're smart, they're beautiful,” says Brinegar of modern vampires, reborn in the currently popular Twilight book and movie series and before that in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles.

“It's what sort of cultural and social issues that are touched in by vampires that are so interesting,” Brinegar says, adding that Bram Stoker “is clearly literature.”


Latest in News and Features


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Chris Dovi

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

  • Preaching for Peace

    Preaching for Peace

    As gun violence plagues the city, the Rev. Donte McCutchen seeks solutions.
    • Jun 15, 2021
  • Waive That Flag

    Waive That Flag

    A VCU teacher has students redesign Virginia flags to “reckon with dead symbols.”
    • Jun 8, 2021
  • Power to the People

    Power to the People

    A new documentary about the rise and fall of the Confederate monuments offers a sweeping history of resistance.
    • Jun 8, 2021
  • A Man for All Seasons

    A Man for All Seasons

    The famous Lee’s Chicken Sign Weather Report leaves the roost.
    • May 25, 2021
  • More »

Copyright © 2021 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation