Study questions for Weeks One and Two

Quiz questions:

Monday: Please prepare question 4.

Wed.: No quiz. Filming--don't forget the release form distributed on Monday if you'd like to be on camera.

Fri.: Both "Aurelia" and "Wake Not the Dead" feature rather frightening portrayals of women. How is female sexuality related to monstrosity in these two stories?

Ossenfelder, “Der Vampir”

1. This is arguably the first piece literary vampire in the Western tradition.  Do you think it’s significant that this poem written in the first person?  What is that significance?

Bürger, “Lenore”

2. What role does war play in this poem?

3. This poem contains the refrain “die Todten reiten schnell,” (The dead travel/ride fast) later made even more well known through Stoker’s Dracula.  Of course one might normally think of death as the slowest of all states, since life and movement stop.  What is the significance of vampiric speed? 

Goethe, “Braut von Korinth”

4. Some have read this poem as an indictment of Christianity.  What do you think?

5. What is the role of the family in this poem?

Hoffmann, “Aurelia”

6. Hoffmann is clearly familiar with the vampire legend, but he gives us the story of a woman who is a corpse eater.   Is Aurelia’s condition supernatural or “real,” a result of her life experiences?  How can we understand this distinction in relation to the discussion about literature among the “Serapion Brethren” that precedes the story?

7. What is the status of mothers in this story?  Do you agree with Sandra Gufstafson who argues that in this story, “Pregnancy …is vampirism”? 

8. How does this story’s focus on the devouring of corpses relate to the literary principles outlined in its prologue?  What is the relationship between Aurelia’s necrophagy and Cyprian’s “strong meat” (193)? 

9. The focus on eating in this story highlights that theme in vampiric narratives more generally.  What is the importance of eating in vampiric tales?  How could we think of the representation of very basic human activities or traits, such as eating in this tale or the sense of smell in Twilight and other vampire narratives in relation to the literary vampire?

Tieck, “Wake Not the Dead”

10. Once again in this story we have a portrayal of a vampirically wicked woman, but she is summoned through the caprice of Walter.  Do you see this tale as an indictment of the whims of husbands or is it misogynistic?

11. How do Swanhilda and Brunhilda function in relation to each as characters?

12.  Those of you who know the story of Griselda from Chaucer, Boccaccio or Petrarch (and don’t worry if you don’t) might see echoes of her wicked husband Walter in this tale.  What can be revealed about this story by reading it through this source? 

A general question:

After re-reading all these selections of early German vampire works, I was struck by their deeply negative portrayals of women as lovers, wives and mothers.  How do you read these portrayals?  Is the image of the vampire bound up with a negative portrayal of women in these texts? More generally?