Course: Dark and Bloody Nights: A Literary History of Vampires-SOLD OUT!

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Date / Time

  • November 14, 2018
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • December 12, 2018
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • January 16, 2019
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • February 13, 2019
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • March 13, 2019
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
  • April 10, 2019
    6:00 pm - 7:45 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States


“There are such beings as vampires; some of us have evidence that they exist. Even had we not the proof of our own unhappy experience, the teachings and the records of the past give proof enough for sane peoples.” Thus Dr. Abraham Van Helsing lectures his team of would-be vampire hunters. They have come face to face with the vampire of the legendary past. Yet the vampire of folklore was a very different monster than the one that haunts the pages and screens of our contemporary world. When nineteenth century authors took up the pen and created stories of the blood-sucking beast, they reinvented the vampire in ways that reflected their own anxieties and their vampires, in turn, have come to represent for us, the legends of the past.

In this course, we will read some of the seminal texts of vampire fiction and see how the legend grew and developed since the nineteenth century. We’ll also look at some accounts of the vampire in folklore and compare myths of the past with myths of the present (can there be such a thing as a present-day myth?). We’ll see how the texts of vampires highlight the fears and anxieties of the cultures that produce them and discover that vampire stories (like all monster stories) are just as much about themes of difference and otherness, race and ethnicity, sexuality and gender, as they are about thrilling horror.

The Rosenbach collection contains some very significant items of vampire literature, including first editions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the first paperback edition containing the first illustration of the Count, as well as Stoker’s notes for the novel, which provide a fascinating record of an author creating one of the most enduring legends of modern culture.  Also in the collection is a first edition of John Polidori’s The Vampyre, the first vampire story in English fiction.  Some class time will be spent exploring these books and manuscripts.


Pettit Vampire course syllabus

About the Instructor

Edward G. Pettit is the Sunstein Manager of Public Programs at the Rosenbach.  Among other courses at the Rosenbach, he has taught Dickens, Austen, Poe, Frankenstein and Sherlock Holmes and for ten years he taught writing and literature at La Salle University, where he specialized in monster studies.  While Pettit would not enjoy drinking (only) blood to survive, he is attracted to a life spent (only) in the nighttime hours, especially if it were an immortal life (think of all the books you could read!).

About Rosenbach Courses

Revisit beloved classics or experience new ones with Rosenbach courses. Book lovers delve into fiction, history, and poetry with the guidance of a literary expert and the company of other readers.