I’m teaching a course in vampire fiction this semester. Actually, the course is called Studies in Fiction, but I thought exploring vampire literature would be a great way to raise questions about fiction–its purposes and its forms in particular. Thus far, we’ve read revenant myths, Slavic folk tales, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and a handful of short stories. We’ve also looked at representations of the vampire in film–notably, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Interview with the Vampire.

So, I was pleased when I heard the NPR “All Things Considered” piece on vampires–appropriately aired yesterday on Halloween. You can listen to the story or read the transcript, and there is a short history of vampires included on the site.One interesting quote from the transcript:

The Modern Vampire: Bloodthirsty, But Chivalrous
by Lynn Neary

Eric Nuzum, author of The Dead Travel Fast, says vampires have been around in one form or another since ancient times. And while vampires cannot see their own reflections in the mirror, they are a perfect reflection of the culture that creates them.

“You look at vampires from any given era and you see what they thought was frightening,” Nuzum says. “You see what they thought was sexy, and what they thought was forbidden.”

We’ve been talking about this idea all semester long: the way vampire fiction offers us a managed fantasy, giving us a taste of the taboo that we might not dare to approach ourselves. I’m going to have to pick up The Dead Travel Fast.