Pretty easy, overall.
Best class I've taken at UVA! Really interested course material and taught to the class in different ways.
The class is so much more than just learning about vampires. Stepanic really ensures that the students understand the underlying lore and myths behind not just vampires, but demonic like creatures from different cultures and the influences of the vampire on popular culture.
Hours per week:
Advice for students:
Make sure you take good notes during class - it'll really save you during the exams and when you write the papers!
Not too easy. Not too difficult.
Dracula is a very educational and entertaining course that teaches about the origins of the “vampire” and then explores its evolution in popular culture. As a student, I could tell Stepanic is very passionate about his topic through the way he teaches his class. Whether he compares the way Bram Stoker wrote Dracula to modern day fanfiction writers, presenting clips of Hellsing, or compares the differences between the American and Spanish versions of the film Dracula due to censorship codes, there is usually attention-grabbing humor or excitement. I could not literally fall asleep in his class because it was so interesting.
I can tell you many specifics about this course and also give you a general outline of it. In the beginning, I learned about the relationship and differences between myth and lore and that the idea of the vampire originates from Slavic folklore. Corpses suspected of being vampires were actually burned because that was how Slavs viewed them as being “purified.” The Slavs also had other methods for preventing would-be vampires from attacking mortals such as dismembering their limbs or burying them upside down. In addition to discovering how to prevent vampirism, we also learned about the vampire’s characteristics and its eventual introduction to literature. We evaluate the romantic period and era of decadence in general and discuss particular writer such as Mary Shelley and Lord Byron. After Stepanic discusses about early, almost unheard-of works about vampires, the class learned about the backgrounds behind Carmilla and especially Dracula. We delve into detail Stoker’s work in the theater business and the inspiration of Dracula’s personality based on the actor Henry Irving. The Stokers, with outside help, adapted Dracula into a theatrical play to earn more money which eventually launched its popularity into film when movies are developed. We later evaluate the evolution of the vampire in film and its “ups and downs” in popularity. One of the latest revivals in popularity for the vampire was Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire which made the character type more human and thus, more flexible material to work with for modern day culture. Around the end of the class, we also discuss the different types of humans who admire or act like vampires as well as briefly talk about the vampire religion.
Hours per week:
Advice for students:
I recommend studying about an hour after lectures are done and starting on the assigned essay early. The exams require you to write at least five pieces of information about ten topics; studying properly will give you an abundance of material to write about and writing extra information will not penalize you. Some of the information learned from studying can be beneficial for the paper. I definitely recommend working on the paper early especially the class is taken during the summer. A ten page rough draft created in one night can earn you a 75 and is about 20% of the course grade, but if you start early and take advantage of office hours, you can easily get a 90 or higher and thank yourself for a good night’s rest before the deadline.