Academics at the University of Hertfordshire are organising a conference that will serve ketchup-smothered food (it's tastier than blood) from coffins, all in the name of putting British vampire fiction back on the map. It's the brainchild of Dr Sam George, a lecturer in English literature at Hertfordshire who is fascinated by vampires and keen to use them to make literature exciting.
"British actors have traditionally been cast as vampires on screen, but recently they're all American, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Twilight. I aim to turn the focus back to the texts, which are mainly English, and what they say about our society," George explains. "I wanted to put them in the setting of a rigorous academic conference on vampire fiction to prove that you can study popular literature in a serious way.
Well... okay. I'm always game for the scholarly study of pop culture, and certainly, there's a lot of be said about the recent rash of vampire popularity, even Twilight. And I'd genuinely like to know the implications behind the shift of international origins of vampires. I bet that'd be interesting.
"When I teach my students 18th-century and Renaissance literature, they sometimes struggle to connect to it. But they're always talking to me about Twilight and its ilk, and I thought the wealth of subject matter in vampire lit made it a perfect way to study popular literature on an academic platform."
Well, since Twilight has less to do with vampires and more to do about mopey abstinent wish-fulfillment fantasy, I wouldn't think you'd want to focus too much on it, but whatever.
The idea has certainly been popular with academia. George's call for papers led to more than 100 academics from disciplines including film, literature and cultural studies sending in abstracts; 70 have been selected to talk at the two-day conference. They are travelling from across the world as well as from British institutions.
The schedule is packed - and some of the topics sound like they shouldn't be discussed just after lunch. Planned lectures range from "Sullied Blood, Semen, and Skin: Vampires and the Spectre of Miscegenation" to "Who Ordered the Hamburger with Aids?: Blood Anxiety in True Blood".
AND YOU LOST ME. You've gone from a scholarly pursuit to a bunch of overeducated goth kids trying desperately to justify their poor life decisions, and desperate, trying-to-be-hip, horny college professors who want to sleep with them. No thank you.
In a bid to make the most of that interest, George is launching, in September, what seems to be the world's first master's degree in vampire literature. "In the months I've been planning the conference I've fielded a huge number of inquiries from people all over the world who are interested in studying vampires, zombies and the undead at a higher level," she says. "I had the idea of offering the master's as a direct follow-up from the conference. I thought it was crucial to have a way of extending this burst of awareness." The best papers from the conference will be collected in a book, which will become a textbook for the MA students.
Well, that's dumb. That's insanely dumb. You know what already exists? Master's degrees in Literature. Why do you think we need one just for vampire books? Hell, I don't think we need a Master's degree in Comic Books, because the "Literature" one already covers it, and I like comic books. Man, we allow the Master's in Vampire Literature, net thing you know people will be double-majoring in The Works of Robert Pattinson and Anatomy of Taylor Lautner. As Bela Lugosi would say, "Bleh." (Via FilmDrunk)