E 350R l Vampires and Dandies-HONORS
Instructor: Richmond-Garza, E
Unique #: 35455
Semester: Fall 2016
Cross-lists: LAH 350
Restrictions: English Honors
Computer Instruction: No
Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.
Description: A Gothic Perspective on the Long Nineteenth Century --
This course proposes to track two archetypes which have travelled through literature and culture together: the vampire and the dandy. The period considered by this course, 1789-1922, sees the dandy/vampire’s apogee as the sensationalist vehicle for both the most subversive and the most conservative tracts on European identity and culture from the height of Romanticism to the First World War. We shall begin with Beau Brummel’s creation of the dandy, the elegant man about town, and with recollections of the Grand Tour, which took British travelers to the realm of the vampire. The course will contextualize these new identities in regard to Central and Eastern European folk origins, European analogs and the imperial culture of Great Britain. The pairing combines ideally the century’s two most provocative iconographies of difference, whether that difference is cultural, ethnic or sexual: the Gothic and the Orientalist. From his/her origins as the predator who attacks the next-of-kin, the vampire joins with the dandy’s new image of gender and sexuality. Together they emerge as an “Other” who combines multiple fantasies of threat and seduction: that of a New-Woman feminine evil, that of Jewish or Slavic contamination, that of Orientalist, diasporic xenophobia, that of localized homophobia, that of cultural degeneration and decadence.
The vampire draws on Western Europe’s own atavistic past and links it to the Eastern Others who increasingly form and transform the British Empire and Europe as a whole. The dandy embodies the decadent modern self whose existence is as unnatural as that of the undead. The vampire is both the Turk and the Baron; she is both the transgressing Jew and the independent daughter, and “they” now inhabit the increasingly uneasy European capital cities. The dandy strolls these same boulevards, impersonating a modernity that is at odds with imperialist ideals of healthy citizenship. Are vampires and dandies a masquerade for demonizing marginal identities or can they seductively infiltrate society undetected as more than a strange visitor?
The century’s preoccupations with immigration, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and class will be mapped against this reliably flamboyant combined figure. The methodology will combine cultural history, drawing upon the work of critics like Dijkstra, Auerbach, Williams, West, Hobsbawm and Foucault, with a special focus on identity politics as suggested by Phelan, Bulter, Gilman and others.
The spine of the course will be a genealogy of texts from Coleridge’s Christabel (1798) to the first filmic presentations of this figure. Its central piece will be a close cultural, historical reading of Stoker’s Dracula. It will include materials drawn from relevant genres, including painting and film. The British texts, including Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Salomé, will be viewed in juxtaposition with continental ones whose material conditions nuance their presentation of the icon of the dandy/vampire in different ways. Thus Byron/ Polidori’s The Vampire will be juxtaposed with Gogol’s Viy, and Stoker’s text with Parisian novellas by Rachilde and Huysmans. The suggestion is that the vampire/dandy combination become a distinctly contested site of cultural self-definition throughout nineteenth-century Europe.
Texts: Texts will include: backgrounds texts on Vlad Tepes and Erzebet Bathory, and on folk vampires; Burger, Lenora; Karamzin, The Island of Bornholm; Coleridge, Christabel; Byron/Polidori The Vampyre; Keats, “La belle dame Sans Merci” and Lamia; Gogol, Viy; Maupassant, Horia; the vampire poems from Baudelaire and Kipling; Tennyson “Tithonous”; Planché, The Vampire, Délibes, Lakmé; Le Fanu, Carmilla; Dion Boucicault, The Vampire (The Phantom); Turgenev, Phantoms; Rymer, Varney the Vampire; Rachilde, Monsieur Venus and “The Blood Drinkers”; Schoenberg, Anticipation; Wilde, Salomé and The Picture of Dorian Gray; Bram Stoker, Dracula; Murnau’s Nosferatu and selected paintings.
Requirements & Grading: Written requirements for the course will include: a short initial essay based on a prompt from the instructor (20%), a research/bibliography report (5%), a long research paper on a topic chosen by the student (including a formal prospectus, 5% + 35%), a reading journal (collected in two halves, 5%+5%) and a final short writing assignment (15%). Additionally, each student will receive a grade for oral participation. The oral participation will include preparing, together with a colleague, an oral presentation for the class for which instructions will be provided (10%).