Folkloric Transformations: Vampires & Big Bad Wolves

Folkloric Transformations

This course explores the transformations of folklore in modern literature, film, and TV, focusing primarily on vampires, as well as fairy tale creatures.

DURATION: 12 weeks
ID: LITC 5303

Disclaimer: The information on this page is provided as an overview. The course outline, readings, and assignments may be subject to change in the final syllabus as determined by the lecturer and/or preceptors.

Folklore is a major source of modern imaginative literature and popular culture. Think of supernatural creatures such as vampires, werewolves, ghosts and fairies, all populating the oral stories of generations of peoples. Think about the tales you heard as a child, “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Cinderella,” “Snow-White” (among many others), the origins of which are lost in the mists of time.

In this course we will explore the transformations of folklore in modern literature, film, and TV. The first part of the course will focus on the figure of the vampire, from ancient Mesopotamian blood-sucking female demons, to early modern Eastern European folklore, and then on to the literary vampire from Coleridge and Polidori to Dracula and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The second part of the course will focus on fairy-tales, using “Little Red Riding Hood” as a case study. We will discuss the transition from folk tales to literary fairy-tales, and we will explore different versions of “Little Red Riding Hood,” from Perrault and the Brothers Grimm to Angela Carter’s “The Company of Wolves” and Matthew Bright’s Freeway.

The aim of the course is to gain an understanding of the role of folklore in modern literary and popular culture texts, as well as evaluate what it is that makes folklore material so versatile and enduring in modern culture.

Weekly Outline

Folkloric Transformations lectures will take place on Mondays & Thursdays at 4:00 – 5:30 pm Eastern Time.

Week 1 – Introduction to Folklore and its transformations

Week 2 – Vampires in folklore

Legend and literature from ancient Mesopotamia to Eastern European folklore, and first literary representations

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Christabel”
  • John Polidori, The Vampyre

Week 3 – Bram Stoker’s folklore research

Dracula as a ‘founding narrative’, Dracula and psychoanalysis/sexuality, Dracula and the late Victorian context

  • Bram Stoker, Dracula

Week 4 – Adapting the vampire: Gothic legacies (I)

  • Richard Matheson, I Am Legend
  • Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

Week 5 – Adapting the vampire: Gothic legacies (II)

  • Joss Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Note: General knowledge of the series is useful, but discussion will focus on Season 1, Season 2, and Season 5, Episode 1 “Buffy vs. Dracula.”

Week 6 – Adapting the vampire: Gothic legacies (III)

  • Charlaine Harris, Dead Until Dark
  • Tomas Alfredson, Let the Right One In

Week 7 – Folktales, fairy-tales, and the earliest ‘Little Red Riding Hood narratives

  • Charles Perrault, “Little Red Riding Hood”
  • Brothers Grimm, “Little Red Cap”

Week 8 – Red Riding Hood and sexuality

  •       Angela Carter, “The Company of Wolves”
  •       Neil Jordan, The Company of Wolves

Week 9 – Little Red Riding Hood fends for herself

  • Francesca Lia Block, ‘Wolf’
  • Matthew Bright, Freeway

Week 10 – Subverting Little Red Riding Hood in Children’s Literature

  • Catherine Storr, Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf
  • Roald Dahl, “Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf”

Week 11 – Little Red Riding Hood in video games and advertising

  • Tale of Tales, The Path

Week 12 – Conclusion and Further Transformations

Required Texts

Course History

Folkloric Transformation Offerings
Fall 2020Dr. Brenton Dickieson & Erin Aust
Fall 2016Kristine Ainsworth Swank & Dr. Brenton Dickieson

Auditors (any level) can register using the link below. New MA or Certificate students should apply to the program. Existing MA and Certificate students should contact their Student Advisor.

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