Quick Write (2 minutes)

What makes vampires monstrous? Why are they monsters? Why are they scary?

Dracula as Palimpsest

pal·imp·sest – a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.

  • something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.

Dracula 1798 novel > Dracula 1931 Film > Dracula 1992 Film > Twilight books and movies

Or Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned

Incredible Hulk > Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde > Frankenstein and His Monster

Monster Culture (Seven Theses)

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen – Monster Culture (Seven Theses) (p. 3-20)

From the editor/author’s website:

We live in a time of monsters. Monsters provide a key to understanding the culture that spawned them. So argue the essays in this wide-ranging and fascinating collection that asks the question, What happens when critical theorists take the study of monsters seriously as a means of examining our culture?

In viewing the monstrous body as a metaphor for the cultural body, the contributors to Monster Theory consider beasts, demons, freaks, and fiends as symbolic expressions of cultural unease that pervade a society and shape its collective behavior. Through a historical sampling of monsters, these essays argue that our fascination for the monstrous testifies to our continued desire to explore difference and prohibition. JeffreyJeromeCohen.com

Monster Theory

  1. Thesis I. The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body (4)
  2. Thesis II. The Monster Always Escapes (4)
  3. Thesis III. The Monster Is the Harbinger of Category Crisis (6)
  4. Thesis IV. The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference (7)
  5. Thesis V. The Monster Polices the Borders of the Possible (12)
  6. Thesis VI. Fear of the Monster Is Really a Kind of Desire (16)
  7. Thesis VII. The Monster Stands at the Threshold . . . of Becoming (20)

Monster Theory Class Notes

Thesis I. The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body

  • Each culture will produce their own monsters and their own versions of monsters. “The monstrous body is pure culture” (4).
  • The monsters is born as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment, a time, a feeling, and a place. A monster will always change because culture changes, our fears and beliefs are always changing (4).
  • The monster signifies something other than itself: it is a displacement, it inhabits the gap between when it was created and it is received, to be born again (4).

Activity: Still-Life Writing

  1. List as many concrete details as you can see.
  2. List as many unique observations as you can.
  3. Write as descriptively as possible about the text.
    • Descriptive language – appeals to the reader’s five senses: taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing.

Use this strategy for your primary sources. Build on your concrete observation and evoke the image for your reader.


Bela Lugosi portrays the evil Count Dracula in the 1931 movie classic.

Dracula is the most famous vampire in literature and film. 

Here is the latest film in Dracula’s long history. Dracula Untold (2014).

Finally, the last image to analyze.

The Muppet character Count Von Count.