Seminar on zombie and vampire literature

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Amidst this year’s celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein’s publication, AU’s MAIS program, together with Empire State College in New York, is offering a seminar on zombie and vampire literature in the upcoming Fall 2018 semester. AU’s Dr Mark A. McCutcheon and Empire State College’s Dr Dana Gliserman-Kopans will team-teach a course they’ve designed and called The Walking Undead: Zombies and Vampires in Transatlantic Cultural History.

Cultural cachet

As popular cultural icons, vampires and zombies will not die. And each culture adapts and reinvents these monsters to contain, or reflect, or spark its reigning socio-political anxieties. Vampires, according to several authorities, are popular when the politics skew left: the middle classes are afraid of the wealthy, powerful elites who prey on and suck dry the powerless multitudes. Zombies are popular when the politics skew right: the elites fear the masses of the poor and needy who threaten to overwhelm them with sheer numbers.

Zombies? Vampires? There’s a course for that!

This course takes an historical, transnational, and transcultural survey of vampire and zombie literature from Britain, the USA, and Canada: from the 18th-century Gothic foundations of this body of work; through Victorian and early modern horror classics; to contemporary fiction by Indigenous and diasporic writers. The Walking Undead focuses on literary texts but — given the rampant popularity today of zombie and vampire characters and stories — the course also allows students to pursue research on the hordes of audio-visual texts in these genres that are available via streaming media services like Netflix, Youtube, and elsewhere on the public Internet.

Along the way, students will pay close attention both to how such writings are constructed and adapted; and they will critically interpret, discuss, and reflect on the cultural work that these monstrous figures, scenes, and stories do. Students will discuss and write about assigned texts and related literary and cultural criticism; course work culminates in independent research, which can take either critical or creative form, subject to the professors’ approval. Students will also be welcome to attend or remotely tune in to AU’s symposium as part of the global Frankenreads event to be held on October 31st, 2018.

For current MA-IS students to enroll in this course (MAIS 752: Special Topics Seminar, Fall 2018), they must have previously completed any one of the following: MAIS 601, 602, 606, 625, 665; any LTST (or MA-level ENGL) course. For prospective MA-IS students to enroll, they must have previously completed ENGL 395 or any equivalent 6 credits of 300- or 400-level English literature courses (which may include up to 3 credits, or one course, in creative writing). For ESC students, prerequisites will be determined by Dr. Gliserman-Kopans.

For more information about the course or to register, AU students are welcome to contact Dr. McCutcheon at mccutcheon@athabascau.ca and ESC students are welcome to contact Dr. Gliserman-Kopans at Dana.Gliserman-Kopans@esc.edu. No undergrad version for AU students is being offered or planned at this time but may be in future — undergrad students interested in this subject might consider pursuing it in an individual Directed Reading course like ENGL 491.