Researching Bram Stoker’s Dracula
This course explores Bram Stoker’s creation of one of the great masterpieces of English literature, on the premise that his text represents an enormous project of library research, the various layers of which can be excavated and explored – on the basis of materials as close to hand as Philadelphia, PA. The core questions we will explore – indeed, research – are as follows: (1) where did Stoker derive his notion of Dracula as a key character in the novel, and in what ways does this character reflect an informed understanding of the historic “Vlad the Impaler” from the fifteenth century? (2) what was the influence of Balkan and Slavic folklore and mythology on Stoker’s conception of vampires and their attributes? (3) why did Stoker settle on Transylvania as the major “eastern” setting of the novel, and how accurate was his description of the region’s geography? (4) what motivated Stoker to craft Dracula as he did – what were his underlying objectives and intents? – and how does this influence the modern imagination? In pursuing this journey, we will take a field trip to the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia to explore a treasure trove of primary evidence that will help us to answer the questions posed above.