Spring 2008

Vampires, Immigrants, Nations

Listed in: English, as ENGL-01


Dale M. Hudson (Section 03)


This course acquaints students with the critical study of "entertainment" film by reading vampire films as immigration stories and by considering these films in terms of the uneven and unequal global circulation of audiovisual media. The course situates cinematic vampires within the historical and cultural context of pre-cinematic vampires, including vampires from central and eastern European folklore, vampires from western European literature and drama, as well as supernatural creatures from much older traditions, such as the Indian vetala and the Chinese jiang shi, that come to be confused with vampires through colonialism, modernity, postcolonialism, and alternative modernities. Weekly writing assignments emphasize textual analysis of film in terms of its formal properties and generic codes and conventions, whether from horror and melodrama, or from masala and wuxia, to support thematic analysis. The course ask students to consider ways that vampires function in European, North American, and Asian popular cinemas in relation to questions of cultural assimilation, racialization, nativism, nationalism, and violations of national sovereignty, such as political assassinations and vigilantism. As a counterpoint to vampire films, we will screen short films on the subject of immigrants from the early days of cinema. The course asks students to reflect upon the politics of entertainment in films from Canada, Cuba, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, the U.K., and the U.S. Preference given to first-year students and sophomores. Limited to 15 students. Visiting Professor Hudson.