Love, death and vampires — let’s just say this isn’t your mother’s English course.
Vampirology: Literature with Bite, a course offered by the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, lets students examine the supernatural spooks in all their blood-sucking, page-turning splendour while also raising powerful questions about death, sex and power.
With vampire tales like Twilight and True Blood heating up the big and small screens respectively, the time is ripe for a study of the original literature that serves as a basis for the mythical, iconic figures.
Dr. Hilary E. Davis, instructor of the eight-week course that starts Sept. 23, dubs the class “Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) meets Socrates” and says she hopes to demonstrate to people that vampire stories can be as rich with meanings and metaphors as other forms of literature. Books by famed authors like Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, Octavia E. Butler and Stephenie Meyer round out the reading list and Davis hopes students will discover a few delectable new reads among the roster.
“Literature is about the possible — it’s about how things could be. Vampires are hot right now and I think these are all great books,” Davis said.
Gordon Davies, head of Languages, Arts and Science at the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto, says the course is meant as a chance for people who love vampire and occult stories but never had the time to get immersed in the best the genre has to offer.
“It’s an area of modern literature that attracts a lot of people and students want some introduction to how it all fits together,” Davies said.
Thought-provoking discussions into the philosophical issues behind the literature will be the focus of the non-evaluative course and Davis hopes students will enjoy sharing their reactions to the tough questions raised by the stories as much as they enjoy the fantasy aspects.
“I’m interested in questions about human nature, issues of death and aging and what it means to be human, what it means to exist. There’s a strong attraction for people to the otherworldly right now because there’s something very appealing about the romanticism of these characters,” Davis said.
Of course, Davis admits a good scare and the allure of the undying are no small part of the genre’s popularity.
“The eroticism and metaphysical aspect of the literature is attractive to people — everybody wants to live forever,” Davis said.
For more information, visit learn.utoronto.ca.