Gilpin’s vampire lit course doesn’t bite

Mehalet KesateBirhan, Staff Writer

In my experience the mere mention of modern day vampires is enough for people to go on rants of admiration or distaste for what the Vampire has become. The romantic, human-like, less terrifying eye-candy vampire trend has obviously hit the right note in recent Young-Adult literature. Yet some will argue it to be a violation of what vampires are all about— frankly, vampires living off synthetic blood and making babies is somewhat of a stretch. When I found that there was an actual course where these topics could be discussed I rushed to the Registrar’s office and signed myself up.

I was thrilled at the promise of a great semester and I was not disappointed.

Professor Vicky Gilpin is great at teaching this course. Her interest in the subject matter and enthusiasm is contagious. She is very supportive and indulges the many strange topics that might arise during class, and there have been some strange ones. I can’t recall one class period during which I was not fully entertained.

The course tends to cover a lot of material, but do not panic! The books and short stories assigned are a joy to read especially if you are already a vampire fan. From Victorian works such as Dracula (Stoker) and Carmilla (Le Fanu) to more recent American novels like Let the Right One In (Lindqvist), Eighth Grade Bites (Brewer) and You Suck (Moore), we explored some of the many facets and metaphors associated to the vampire. Vampire-themed music and film was also up for study which was pretty great. Watching the Lost Boys and examining the various themes of the movie as a group was one of the highlights for me. Another highlight? Halloween! Professor Gilpin came in a vampire costume complete with a wig, nails and fangs. Not everyone was in costume but those who were (myself included) felt right at home. We enjoyed home baked cookies and a general atmosphere of fun and open conversation.

The Vampire literature class has received a lot of support from students and faculty members alike. Professor Gilpin explains that through pop cultural elements students can gain different perspectives and hone skills such as critical thinking, literary analysis, close reading, and an awareness of themes. The ever-changing nature of the vampire allows for vampire literature to touch upon various societal and historical issues. “The skills used to learn about vampires in the humanities are the same ones needed to examine any type of theme,” Gilpin adds.

This class stands out for me because it melds together two things that in my mind had no business being melded. Studying contemporary novels with a scholarly point of view is unusual. I had always thought that such studies were reserved for greater literary works; some of the vampire novels I have read are so bad that they are not worth mentioning in casual conversation. However, contemporary vampire literature is important because it is in fact contemporary. It touches upon many current topics which we can easily relate to. I found it to be engaging, challenging and inspiring. Whether you are a vampire fan or simply curious you will definitely have fun in Gilpin’s Vampire Literature class.