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Vampires, Iron Thrones and Hobbits at Drexel This Summer

May 2, 2012

vampire professor

What do bloodsucking vampires and mythical warlords have in common? Tales and analysis of their existence will earn you up to six Drexel credits this summer.

Two professors in the English department, Dr. Eva Thury and Gail Rose, are teaming up to tackle the evolution of vampires, in this year's “Our Vampires, Our Selves” course offered on Tuesday nights.

“The course started out of a conversation we were having about vampires. I was doing research about vampires as heroes and Gail is the quintessential Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan,” says Thury.

The course is made up of short stories, novels, television shows and excerpts of movies that chronicle vampires from their origin in folklore to the current popular culture sensations True Blood, Twilight and The Vampire Diaries.

“Students can’t talk with understanding about the modern vampire unless they understand the pre-cursors. We go back and do the earliest vampire stories such as Dracula and Camilla,” says Thury.

She found that students were writing about these dark characters in her mythology classes and realized that these were the “heroes” students were most interested in nowadays.

“Students are funny. Some people think writers like Stephen King who creates creepy horrible vampires are more fun than authors who create sparkling romantic vampires like Edward in Twilight. I think you have to balance both of them,” says Thury.

These courses aren’t just offered for students interested in English and literature.

“In the context of studying vampires, you can also learn standard critical thinking skills and presentation skills that you can then apply to business presentations and more,” says Thury.

Game of Thrones courseWith an eye on another area of the fantasy realm, Dr. Donald Riggs (left) is teaching “A Game of Thrones” through the Honors College this summer. He said that what students gain most in courses like these is “richness of the imagination.”

“These are books (and movies) that people get wrapped into and it stimulates a part of their being that doesn’t really get touched by mathematical calculations,” says Riggs.

His course will explore the relationship between season one of the HBO series Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin’s science fiction novel with the same name. The popular HBO show, now in its second season, is based on Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series that details the power struggles among the mythical kingdom’s noble families for control of the Iron Throne.

Riggs will also teaches an English course this summer on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, one of his biggest passions, which investigates the relationship between the literature and the movie directed by Peter Jackson. In addition to the novel and movie, Riggs shows parodies of Tolkien’s work including fan-made films and literature.

“In English department we like to do serious, scholarly, dull, boring things but we also like to do exciting things,” says Thury. “There are a lot of people in the English department that want to carry the excitement that they feel in working with their materials to students.”

--Stephanie Takach