Quick Write (2 minutes)
What makes vampires monstrous? Why are they monsters? Why are they scary?
Dracula as Palimpsest
pal·imp·sest – a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.
- something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.
Dracula 1798 novel > Dracula 1931 Film > Dracula 1992 Film > Twilight books and movies
Or Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned
Incredible Hulk > Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde > Frankenstein and His Monster
Key and Peele – Sexy Vampires
- Thesis I. The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body (4)
- Thesis II. The Monster Always Escapes (4)
- Thesis III. The Monster Is the Harbinger of Category Crisis (6)
- Thesis IV. The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference (7)
- Thesis V. The Monster Polices the Borders of the Possible (12)
- Thesis VI. Fear of the Monster Is Really a Kind of Desire (16)
- Thesis VII. The Monster Stands at the Threshold . . . of Becoming (20)
Thesis I. The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body
- Each culture will produce their own monsters and their own versions of monsters. “The monstrous body is pure culture” (4).
- The monsters is born as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment, a time, a feeling, and a place. A monster will always change because culture changes, our fears and beliefs are always changing (4).
- The monster signifies something other than itself: it is a displacement, it inhabits the gap between when it was created and it is received, to be born again (4).
Activity: Still-Life Writing
- List as many concrete details as you can see.
- List as many unique observations as you can.
- Write as descriptively as possible about the text.
- Descriptive language – appeals to the reader’s five senses: taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing.
Use this strategy for your primary sources. Build on your concrete observation and evoke the image for your reader.
Dracula is the most famous vampire in literature and film.
Here is the latest film in Dracula’s long history. Dracula Untold (2014).
Finally, the last image to analyze.
Read this selection and take as many notes as you can.
- Concrete Details
- What stood out to you?
- What is important to remember?
The full Dracula ebook is available on Gutenberg.org for free.
Jonathan Harker’s Journal, End of Chapter 2.
8 May.—I began to fear as I wrote in this book that I was getting too diffuse; but now I am glad that I went into detail from the first, for there is something so strange about this place and all in it that I cannot but feel uneasy. I wish I were safe out of it, or that I had never come. It may be that this strange night-existence is telling on me; but would that that were all! If there were any one to talk to I could bear it, but there is no one. I have only the Count to speak with, and he!—I fear I am myself the only living soul within the place. Let me be prosaic so far as facts can be; it will help me to bear up, and imagination must not run riot with me. If it does I am lost. Let me say at once how I stand—or seem to.
I only slept a few hours when I went to bed, and feeling that I could not sleep any more, got up. I had hung my shaving glass by the window, and was just beginning to shave. Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder, and heard the Count’s voice saying to me, “Good-morning.” I started, for it amazed me that I had not seen him, since the reflection of the glass covered the whole room behind me. In starting I had cut myself slightly, but did not notice it at the moment. Having answered the Count’s salutation, I turned to the glass again to see how I had been mistaken. This time there could be no error, for the man was close to me, and I could see him over my shoulder. But there was no reflection of him in the mirror! The whole room behind me was displayed; but there was no sign of a man in it, except myself. This was startling, and, coming on the top of so many strange things, was beginning to increase that vague feeling of uneasiness which I always have when the Count is near; but at the instant I saw that the cut had bled a little, and the blood was trickling over my chin. I laid down the razor, turning as I did so half round to look for some sticking plaster. When the Count saw my face, his eyes blazed with a sort of demoniac fury, and he suddenly made a grab at my throat. I drew away, and his hand touched the string of beads which held the crucifix. It made an instant change in him, for the fury passed so quickly that I could hardly believe that it was ever there.
“Take care,” he said, “take care how you cut yourself. It is more dangerous than you think in this country.” Then seizing the shaving glass, he went on: “And this is the wretched thing that has done the mischief. It is a foul bauble of man’s vanity. Away with it!” and opening the heavy window with one wrench of his terrible hand, he flung out the glass, which was shattered into a thousand pieces on the stones of the courtyard far below. Then he withdrew without a word. It is very annoying, for I do not see how I am to shave, unless in my watch-case or the bottom of the shaving-pot, which is fortunately of metal.
When I went into the dining-room, breakfast was prepared; but I could not find the Count anywhere. So I breakfasted alone. It is strange that as yet I have not seen the Count eat or drink. He must be a very peculiar man! After breakfast I did a little exploring in the castle. I went out on the stairs, and found a room looking towards the South. The view was magnificent, and from where I stood there was every opportunity of seeing it. The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.
But I am not in heart to describe beauty, for when I had seen the view I explored further; doors, doors, doors everywhere, and all locked and bolted. In no place save from the windows in the castle walls is there an available exit.
The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner!