Netherlands, Nijmegen

The Vampire in Folklore, Literature, and Film

when 5 August 2019 - 9 August 2019
language English
duration 1 week
credits 2 EC
fee EUR 600

This course identifies iconic vampire motifs and determines where they originated. Particular attention is placed on vampire motifs in folklore and which were adapted into literature and film and which were not. It’s a course you can really sink your teeth into.

Fans of vampire literature and film usually have substantial knowledge about the characteristics of the undead. In appearance they tend to be pale and have two elongated fangs with which to pierce the necks of their victims. Their behaviors include the drinking of human blood, sleeping in coffins, and making others like themselves by either draining the blood of their human victims or by exchanging blood with them. And even though they have weaknesses such as being repelled by garlic, religious artifacts, and sunlight, they also have extraordinary powers such as controlling the elements and transforming into the forms of animals (especially bats, wolves, and rats) and even non-corporeal substances such as mist and fog. They have preternatural speed, strength, and agility along with superhuman senses. Even though they are potentially immortal, they can be destroyed by a few prescribed means: staking, decapitation, cremation, and exposure to the sun. All of these characteristics—the fangs, the drinking of blood, the preternatural powers—are called motifs. And many people believe that they come from folklore, and some do, but a surprising number do not. The primary purpose of this class is for you to find vampire motifs in folklore, literature and film. By finding motifs you will be able to identify the original sources for them.

The course is divided into three major sections: the vampire in folklore, the vampire in literature, and the vampire in film. The first section of the class begins with an introduction to folklore and continues with discovering the folkloric motifs involving the vampire. In the first section, you will also learn about the great vampire epidemic of the 18th century, the classification of vampires, ‘historical’ vampires, corpse medicine, the decomposition of corpses, and the possible psychological, social, and religious reasons leading to beliefs in vampires. In the second and third sections of the class, we will continue to examine the vampire motifs and compare the ones in literature and film with those is folklore.

From listening to lectures, participating in discussions, reading selections from folklore and literature and watching videos and films, you will be able to identify vampire motifs, place them in one of the six motif categories below and determine the original source of the motifs:

Becoming a vampire
Physical characteristics of vampires
Behavioral characteristics of vampires
The limitations of vampires and apotropaics
The powers of vampires
Eliminating vampires
This approach will also allow you to discover that a large number of vampire motifs in folklore have never been incorporated into literature and film.

Course leader

Robert S. Carlisle
Department of English
California State University
Bakersfield, U.S.A

Target group

Advanced Bachelor

This class is really for anyone interested in vampires and the origins of vampire motifs. However, most of the students who have taken the class in the past are upper division undergraduates and graduate students.

Course aim

After this course you are able to:

Discuss the reasons why some cultures formed beliefs about vampires,
Classify motifs into their correct motif categories,
Identity folk motifs about vampires that have not been adapted into literature or film,
Discuss the origins of the iconic vampire motifs.

Fee info

EUR 600: Normal fee


€ 540 early bird discount – deadline 1 March 2019 (10%)
€ 510 partner + RU discount (15%)
€ 450 early bird + partner + RU discount (25%)

Register for this course
on course website