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Lecture at Alliance to focus on role of vampires in society

By Staff | Oct 9, 2009

The Haunted Screen lecture, presented by the Lee County Alliance for the Arts, will examine the role of vampires in society just in time for Halloween.
The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 and is open to the public.
The mythical creatures change progressively over time and seem to mirror the society in which they are reconceptualized. Dr. Wendy Chase, a professor of humanities at Edison State College, will explore variations in vampire films between “Nosferatu” in 1922 and last year’s pop-culture hit “Twilight.”
“Every generation puts forth an image of the vampire in cinema,” she said. “There are dozens and dozens of vampire movies across the world, but I’m trying to take a very small selection of films.”
Throughout the lecture, subtitled “From Nosferatu to Twilight or How We Neutered the Vampire,” Chase will play short clips from a number of films to outline how the vampire has changed alongside modern culture.
She will discuss, for example, how the German impressionistic film “Nosferatu” mirrored the European culture in 1922 and how filmmaker F.W. Murnau visualized the original vampire as a hideous monster.
Later, the audience will see how the monsters have transformed over the years by showing “The Hunger,” a 1983 glamorized vampire flick starring Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie.
“I’m going to skip stones across ages and show how this myth keeps presenting itself and how it reflects something about the culture and time that creates it,” she said.
Other films under review for The Haunted Screen are “Dracula,” the 1931 version starring Bela Lugosi, as well as Anne Rice’s “Interview With The Vampire” and finally Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight.”
For the examination of “Twilight,” the discussion will be on how the theme of abstinence in the book is contrary to the traditional ideal of vampires, and how the vampires in “Twilight” are attractive teens and do not resemble the creatures from the past.
“What interests me in ‘Twilight’ is that it is very unusual because of the emphasis on restraint,” Chase said. “We will be looking at what that says.”
Chase has hosted other lectures for the Alliance of the Arts, including one on modern art which protests war. She holds a doctorate from Florida State University with a concentration in film and modernism.
The alliance is accepting reservations and it asks for a minimum donation of $5 to help fund other lectures in the future. To make a reservation, call 939-2787 or e-mail exhibitions@artinlee.org.