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Special Topics in the Moving Image: Vampires, Mummies and Liberals

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"Vampires, Mummies and Liberals" was a seminar held at Malmö Art Academy in 2007 that looked at some of the social and political questions raised by vampire narratives, particularly in relation to history, film-history, sexuality, popular culture, liberalism and neo-liberalism. Through close reading, film analysis and group discussion we asked what the metaphor of the vampire (condemned to eternal life) might have to say about the category of history. The course began with David Glover’s book, "Vampires, Mummies and Liberals: Bram Stoker and the Politics of Popular Fiction" through which we reconsidered the author of the 1897 novel, Dracula, as an Irish Protestant Nationalist in London motivated by late-Victorian Liberalism. After looking at the circumstances around the production of his book we followed the "eternal return" of the vampire figure, mainly in the popular medium of film, tracing a journey through some of the major cultural shifts of the mid 20th century. Parallel to this, through further reading, we also sketched a history of narrative strategies and technological developments between the 1920s and 1980s within the European / US motion picture industry. We ended by asking what narratives are possible now—looking at where we find ourselves today—attempting to define the present moment in relation to neo-liberalism as the suggested successor to socialism.