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Vampires’ impact on culture, history, literature discussed - Odessa American: UTPB

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Vampires’ impact on culture, history, literature discussed

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Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2019 3:13 pm

Professors and students presented on various vampiric subjects, some in costume and make-up.

Maximillien Vis III, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from UTPB and is now going for a master’s in Spanish, said his specialty is theater. He has been a regular volunteer at Midland Community Theatre.

“I’ve done a lot of things over there and melodrama and Summer Mummers. I’m talking about the origins of the vampire in English melodrama and English literature,” Vis said.

He added that he presented a portion of a 25-page term paper at Creighton University. Vis added that the panel was a good idea.

“It’s a really good departmental outreach for the Department of Literature and Languages. I speak specifically to the entertainment quality of melodrama and how it influences everything. I think it’s important for people to understand that it’s not just books that we study, but literature, film, theater … all forms,” Vis said.

Rebecca Day Babcock, the William and Ordelle Watts Professor in the Department of Literature and Languages, was dressed like a witch and was set to round out the event with a presentation called “From Vampires to Undergraduate Research.”

“Last year we had a zombie panel and it’s become a tradition. I think each Halloween we’re going to have a different creature because in the humanities, and especially in literature, we study these creatures because they pop up very often in novels, plays, in films and poetry. So we can study these kinds of creatures that seem like they’re just fun and scary for Halloween, but we actually study them as part of our work … in literature and language and history,” Babcock said.

She added that a lot of these creatures started off in folklore and folklore is studied in English.

“It’s one of the topics that we study in addition to literature, film, poetry, drama, and of course history,” Babcock said.

TV also is on that list.

She added that vampires, zombies and other beings can help us understand who we are as humans, our place in the world and our fears and concerns.

“A lot of what’s in folklore is warnings to children, so a lot of times the reason why we tell children that there are scary things out at night is because we don’t want children going out at night. If children are scared (that) there are creatures out there that will get them, then that will keep them inside. Then of course we don’t want children to talk to strangers, so we tell them there’s evil creatures” like vampires out there, Babcock said.

“All these folklore stories help us with societal norms. A lot of these stories are about punishing people who transgress those norms and who go outside of those norms. That’s why we need folklore to keep everyone in line,” she added.

She said Thursday’s panel is a great way to show people that literature, languages, Spanish and history are fun subjects.

“It’s not just boring stuff that we study in these old, dusty books that are really dry and just put you to sleep. We actually study things that are fun and interesting and also that no matter what you want to study you can study it through English, through history, especially through history because every single thing that’s happened is part of history …,” Babcock said.

Freshmen Angelica Lewis and Alexandra Oritz came to the panel for the extra credit, but wound up enjoying themselves. Both said they are fans of vampire fiction.

Lewis said part of the talk on “Carmilla’s Transgressions of Boundaries” where a student said love sucks the life out of you was interesting.

“Everything’s pretty interesting,” Oritz said. “I really liked the story of Carmilla; like (the) vampire stuff … how someone could be so charming, yet evil.”

Odessa, TX

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