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The Real History of Dracula

What can vampires teach us about being human?
The Real History of Dracula is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 30.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from New Perspectives on "The Count" As a 1st generation Hungarian-American, vampires are a subject near and dear to my heart (pun intended). I would note the historical fact that Transylvania (Erdely in the Hungarian language) was part of Hungary from time immemorial until 1920 when it was given to Romania as part of the tragic Treaty of Trianon. So Stoker's book took place in Hungary, not Romania. I would also note (pun intended) that the eminent Hungarian composer Bela Bartok wrote a one-act opera "Bluebeard's Castle" that is still regularly performed. Anyway... I found this course to be excellent, well researched, especially in placing vampirism in its social, historical, and cultural context. The two-presenter format worked well for me, and the more informal style of delivery was a welcome change from the often stiff academic style. That being said, there are a few previous comments that I agree with. Dr. Warman's giggling was a bit distracting, and I don't want to count the number of times I heard the words "exactly," "totally," and absolutely." Another issue is that the graphics were good, but then the same images kept reappearing over and over again, often for no apparent reason. However, overall, I greatly enjoyed this course and learned much from it.
Date published: 2024-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fascinating and Well-Researched Course! This was such an interesting course on a fascinating topic! The professors are very knowledgeable and engaging. Their rapport with each other is positive and fun and you can tell they love the subject! While I had some background knowledge on vampires and Dracula, I still learned a lot of new stuff about their connections to folklore, history, and pop culture. I highly recommend this Wondrium course and the professors' amazing online school, The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic!
Date published: 2023-12-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous Course! A fascinating, well-rounded course! Dr Cleto and Dr Warman were clear, informative and entertaining in their delivery of information. The course was wonderfully in-depth, exploring vampiric history and folklore from many different angles while clearly tracing how vampires have changed within culture over time.
Date published: 2023-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dracula in Literature and Popular Culture... My heart bleeds for the reviewer who was expecting more about Vlad and less about Bram Stoker, but I would stake my reputation that this is a course one can sink one's teeth into. The professors clearly enjoy the topic and bring a wealth of research out in a well-organized series of presentations. No, it is not a lecture hall, it is a charming set, and yes, the graphics are a bit repetitive, but it remains thoroughly entertaining. It might be better to think of this as a folklore and literature course, rather than a history course. As such, it's time well spent. Oh, and I will never look at Snow White the same way again!
Date published: 2023-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from so interesting! I started this course more out of curiosity than anything else and was wonderfully surprised by it. The professors have a charming way to teach, it almost seems like one is spending an evening with 2 friends who are talking about the Count. It is informative and delightful. I am planning to read some of the books mentioned. It made me see so many things in a different light including Snow White :)
Date published: 2023-11-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Where is Vlad? I was surprised by the production and layout of this course; it isn’t presented as a university-grade series of lectures with your lecturer at a podium (like all of the other Great Courses I’ve enjoyed); but rather, like a cheap miniseries that may be on cable TV - along with cheesy graphics and stock photography. The DVD packaging lists the topic as history, with the subtopic as medieval history. I didn’t find much of either in this program. I enjoyed the (somewhat) deep-dive into Stoker’s novel, but I found much of the information presented here to be common knowledge, especially if you are already a fan of the genre. I love history, so even though modern historians have demonstrated that Vlad III’s association with Dracula is tenuous at best, his (real-life!) story would have been deserving of more than just a few minutes of the course’s time. I also agree with another reviewer regarding the banter between the two lecturers: it is at times awkward and at other times just off-putting. It reminded me of two giggling teenagers talking excitedly about ouija boards. They are both clearly well-educated about the topic and folklore in general; it was an interesting and unfortunate choice of direction to approach a topic (that is already viewed by many as “unacademic”) in this manner. The graphic design was also very substandard. The same cartoons put in frame over and over again- surely there are more than three drawings of a bat, or a wolf, or of Lucy, in existence that could have been used without copyright infringement?!
Date published: 2023-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course! LOVED this course! Great content and great presentation. Brittany and Sara are now my favorite Goths!
Date published: 2023-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative I really wasn't sure how I would like having two people talking in a presentation, but after watching it I was sold. I've read the novel Dracula twice and I really wanted to learn more about the mythology of Vampires and this video was perfect for me. This was a great overview of Vampire/Dracula history. I hope these professors make more videos in the future.
Date published: 2023-10-17
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Overview

There are few fictional characters who have entrenched themselves so thoroughly in the popular imagination as Count Dracula. In the 10 episodes of The Real History of Dracula, folklorists Dr. Sara Cleto and Dr. Brittany Warman, of The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic, will shine a light into the dark recesses of our cultural obsession with vampires. Using folklore, literature, history, television, film, and more, Sara and Brittany will show you how—and why—vampires are a potent metaphor for what matters most about the human condition.

About

Brittany Warman

Vampires are a way to bridge things that scare us—or that we’re not fully comfortable with—with what we desire.

INSTITUTION

The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic

Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman are folklorists, teachers, and writers who cofounded The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic, where they show creative souls how to reenchant their lives through folklore and fairy tales. They both earned PhDs in English and Folklore from The Ohio State University. They have authored more than four dozen publications and lectured at venues such as the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Maryland Renaissance Festival. The Carterhaugh School won the Dorothy Howard Prize from the American Folklore Society.

By This Expert

The Real History of Dracula
854
Sara Cleto

Dracula and other vampire stories are touchstones—ways to talk about big concepts like sex, race, globalization, disease, and death while pretending you’re talking about something totally different.

INSTITUTION

The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic

Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman are folklorists, teachers, and writers who cofounded The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic, where they show creative souls how to reenchant their lives through folklore and fairy tales. They both earned PhDs in English and Folklore from The Ohio State University. They have authored more than four dozen publications and lectured at venues such as the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Maryland Renaissance Festival. The Carterhaugh School won the Dorothy Howard Prize from the American Folklore Society.

By This Expert

The Real History of Dracula
854
The Real History of Dracula

Trailer

Why Dracula Frightens and Seduces Us

01: Why Dracula Frightens and Seduces Us

Meet your experts, Sara and Brittany, and explore Dracula in popular culture, as well as the roots of the vampire in European folklore that preceded Bram Stoker’s creation. Close with a consideration of why the vampire is such a seductive yet terrifying monster and why it continues to have such a powerful presence in contemporary media.

27 min
Surprises from Bram Stoker’s Dracula

02: Surprises from Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Dracula was first published in 1897 and was only moderately successful in the beginning. As you will see, over time, the novel changed the way we think about vampires and what they represent. Explore the creation of the novel, examine its plot and structure, and consider how it became such an integral part of Western culture and media.

26 min
Vampires and Bloodlust before Dracula

03: Vampires and Bloodlust before Dracula

Examine the folkloric, literary, and historical sources that influenced Stoker’s creation of Dracula, including figures like Vlad the Impaler, the demon Lilith, Jack the Ripper, and others. Take a closer look at the Irish and Eastern European folklore traditions that likely inspired Stoker’s conception of the vampire.

25 min
How Dracula Became a Count

04: How Dracula Became a Count

Prior to Dracula, most vampires were considered little more than overgrown leeches; so why did Stoker make his vampire an elegant, sophisticated count? Look back to the year 1816. Trace the origins of the prototype for the aristocratic, Byronic vampire that was born in John Polidori’s short story The Vampyre.

28 min
Vampire Romance On-Screen

05: Vampire Romance On-Screen

One of the major contributing factors for the popularity of vampires, and Dracula in particular, is Dracula’s proximity to the birth of the film industry in the early 20th century. Consider the way the vampire has become more attractive and romantic in modern renditions and what these stories say about both our desires and our anxieties.

28 min
Why Dracula and Disease Travel Together

06: Why Dracula and Disease Travel Together

Vampires are not just monsters that can kill you—they are monsters you could become. As you will see, this association with contagion or infection taps into very specific anxieties about death, disease, endangering the community, and more. You will also see how Dracula and other vampire narratives have affected the real-world discourse of disease.

29 min
The Vampiric Threat from Abroad

07: The Vampiric Threat from Abroad

Dracula is part of a tradition of the “imperial Gothic,” a sub-genre of the late Victorian period that often presented the fear of foreign invasion or loss of power through the lens of the supernatural. And consider: How do more recent vampire stories challenge the racist fears and imperial anxieties of their predecessors?

26 min
How to Kill a Vampire

08: How to Kill a Vampire

Where did the typical weapons used against vampires—wooden stakes, garlic, and crosses—develop from? And why have the methods to fight vampires changed so much over time? Consider the traditions and superstitions that have been associated with vampires and see how Bram Stoker brought various sources together in his definitive vampire story.

25 min
Once Upon a Vampire

09: Once Upon a Vampire

Vampires have found their way into numerous genres beyond horror and supernatural thrillers. Follow the vampire into the fairy tale and see what kind of shadow his presence casts there. Trace the parallels between vampire stories and several different versions of the famous fairy tales “Bluebeard” and “Snow White.”

25 min
The Vampires among Us

10: The Vampires among Us

Close the course with a look at the impact of the vampire in the real world. From the harmless hobbies of legend tourism, vampire balls, and roleplaying games to the much darker realm of “vampire” serial killers, the allure of the vampire has crossed over from fiction into reality in a range of ways.

30 min