Writing the Vampire with Stephanie M. Wytovich

Uncover the blood-soaked history and folklore surrounding the vampire while learning how to explore its archetype and leave new bite marks on the modern world.

Your Instructor: Stephanie M. Wytovich (Bram Stoker Award Winning Author of 'Brothel')

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: March 15, 2022 - April 12, 2022

Enrollment:

Price: $350

Class Description

Vampires are eternal.

They are the forever children of the night, and they have fascinated readers and writers alike for centuries. Whether you’ve danced with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, fed with Anne Rice’s Lestat, or dove into the darkness with Charlene Harris and Sookie Stackhouse, it’s likely that the hypnotic pull of the vampire has held you in its grasp at one time or the other. But why are we so drawn to these monstrous creatures? And why, despite their many deaths (and overdone plots), do they keep resurrecting, forever hungry for more?

Throughout this course, we’ll be studying the archetype of the vampire to track how it's evolved throughout literature and film. We’ll read a variety of short stories that deal with different representations of the vampire, and then we’ll come together to discuss how folklore and historical events/people have influenced the mythology and the subsequent hysteria and fascination. Students will then engage in discourse surrounding both the lecture and the texts and then will create a series of stories or poems in response to the vampire and its place in contemporary fiction.

In this four-week class, we will be focusing on a variety of vampiric archetypes:

  • The Aristocrat, The Romantic
  • The Bloodsucker, The Nester
  • The Sexualized, The Psychic
  • The Vegetarian, The Moral

Students will then create a work or set of works in response to the archetype each week. Either:

  • 3 short poems or 1 longer poem (up to 500 words each, 1500 for a longer poem); or
  • 3 pieces of flash fiction (up to 500 words each); or
  • 1 short story (up to 1500 words)

What This Class Covers

Week 1: The Aristocrat, The Romantic 

In classic literature, vampires are often showcased as rich, wealthy, aristocratic gentleman or ladies. They are upper-class, the echelon of society, and whether it’s their wealth, their charm, or their status, there is an air of desire about them (and they’re very much aware of it). Studying writers like Bram Stoker, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, and John Polidori, we’ll uncover the allure of the romantic vampire and all the gothic tropes and settings that come along with them. We’ll then discuss how we can subvert these characteristics while still pulling from them and using them to our advantage.

Students will then create a work in response to one of the two archetypes covered. Students will write:

3 short poems or 1 longer poem (up to 500 words each, 1500 for a longer poem)
3 pieces of flash fiction (up to 500 words each)
1 short story (up to 1500 words)

Week 2: The Bloodsucker, The Nester

As we know from Dracula: “The blood is the life!” This week we’ll look at the vampire as a vehicle of violence and trauma (both unto itself and unto others) while also dissecting the symbolism that is associated with their very existence/demise. We’ll chat about Andrei Codrescu’s novel The Blood Countess—a fictionalized close study of Countess Elizabeth Bathory—and then chat about the comic series 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles, the character of Charles Manx (N0S4A2), and of course, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Other notable appearances from Severn (Near Dark), Jerry Dandridge (Fright Night), David (The Lost Boys), and Eli (Let the Right One in) might take shape here as well. 

Students will then create a work in response to one of the two archetypes covered. Students will write:

3 short poems or 1 longer poem (up to 500 words each, 1500 for a longer poem)
3 pieces of flash fiction (up to 500 words each)
1 short story (up to 1500 words)

Week 3: The Sexualized, The Psychic

You can’t talk about vampires without talking about sex and gender. The body, the mind, and the blood are all for the taking once the undead walk into a room, and the exploration of the erotic and the metaphors surrounding identity and hunger are potent here to say the least. We’ll discuss Ana Lily Amirpour’s film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night as well as Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive (amongst others) alongside excerpts from Dead Until Dark by Charlene Harris and J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Here we’ll trace the vampire as lover, psychopath, mate, and stalker, and then decide if there’s a difference between any and all of those words.

Students will then create a work in response to one of the two archetypes covered. Students will write:

3 short poems or 1 longer poem (up to 500 words each, 1500 for a longer poem)
3 pieces of flash fiction (up to 500 words each)
1 short story (up to 1500 words)

Week 4: The Vegetarian, The Moral

Morality. Ethics. Pacifism. Every once in a while, we meet a vampire who tires of the bloodlust and violence and just wants to get along with the very humans they likely (okay, most definitely!) used to feed on. From the mainstreamers of True Blood to the Salvatore Brothers of The Vampire Diaries, to Twilight’s Cullen family and Louis from Interview With a Vampire, we see that vampires not only struggle with their thirst but also about who/what they are. Here we’ll examine the philosophy behind the monster: what they stand for, what they desire, and how they exist and function within the parameters of immortality.  

Students will then create a work in response to one of the two archetypes covered. Students will write:

3 short poems or 1 longer poem (up to 500 words each, 1500 for a longer poem)
3 pieces of flash fiction (up to 500 words each)
1 short story (up to 1500 words)

Goals Of This Class

Students will:

  • Analyze classic and contemporary literature regarding the characterization of the vampire;
  • Think critically about tropes and symbols surrounding the undead, the consumption of blood, and how issues of race, gender, and sexuality are surveyed within the genre as a whole;
  • Understand how folklore and historical events/people shaped the creation of vampire mythology and then dissect the public’s response to it and other various forms of illness and hysteria; and
  • Create stories and/or poems exploring the vampire.
About Our Classes Class FAQs