The Fanged and the Furry

As several of you know, I’m slated to teach a course entitled Writing through Media this fall, and after considerable planning, I’ve created a course framed
within the theme of literary adaptation–to be more specific, adaptation of tales concerning vampires and werewolves. Aside from the fact that I have a
particular fondness for the subject–parts of my masters thesis and dissertation focus on vampires–it’s one that has quite a bit of cultural currency.

As recent scholarship surrounding the popularly dubbed “Twilight Phenomenon” has shown, the history of these creatures—from the foul-smelling, coffin-dwelling
Dracula to the sexy and sparkly Edward Cullen—is a richly interwoven pattern of literature, oral tradition, folklore and superstition, and the technological
advancements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have enabled them to creep deeper into our cultural consciousness through film and television,
popular song and dance, and internet-based fan-fiction. . Characters like Dracula and the Wolfman have undergone numerous transformations and adaptations,
while those such as J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla seem to have gone underground, though contemporary adaptations still bear the traces of their bloody
This begs the question, then: Why do some stories persist, while others resist adaptation? How do adaptations draw upon, respond to, or challenge their
originals? How might adaptations be examined as art forms within their own right? Using the vampire and werewolf tale as our model, we will trace the transformation
of narrative over time as it passes through various hands, genres, and media, interrogating what changes, what remains the same, and how this speaks to
storytelling, audiences, and shifts in technologies and ideologies. The course will challenge students to think critically about adaptation as both an
art form and an academic discipline and to become savvy consumers of popular media.

As reluctant as I was in the beginning to take on this course, I’ve come to realize during the last few months of planning that it’s versatility might
make it both challenging and fun to teach. While it’s technically not an English course–though it’s offered within the English department–I wanted to
find a way to approach it from a lit background, since that’s my area of expertese. I considered broadening the course theme slightly–working with adaptations
of the gothic, or of horror in general, but as it is, I think that this way, we’ll actually be able to trace the transformation of a single story over
time if we have one model to work with.

Partially because I’ve found sharing resources immensely helpful (I can’t count the number of times I’ve found teaching resources just by searching blogs–and
partially because I think I can offer a unique perspective on teaching this particular course as a blind instructor, I shall do my best to track the progress
of the semester for my own and others’ edification.


Think about it!

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