Dracula: Facts & Fictions
When most people think of Dracula, the first thing that comes to mind is an image of a caped count with crimson blood dripping from his fanged mouth. This winter, students who register for the course Dracula: Facts and Fictions will learn the actual history behind the legendary figure.
Field expert and historian Professor Stephen Reinert will teach the online course, which runs December 23, 2019 – January 17, 2020. The course is offered by Rutgers University–New Brunswick Winter Session and open to all students.
The course will help students understand what happened during Dracula’s life and his three reigns as prince of Wallachia, circa 1430-1476. Students will learn how historians uncover and interpret the life and career of Dracula on the basis of surviving narratives, documents, pictures, and monuments. Students will also discover how and why contemporaries of Dracula launched a project of vilifying his character and deeds in the early decades of printed pamphlets and books, and what characterized medieval and early modern vampire beliefs in central and eastern Europe.
The course will include a full set of audio-visual lectures, equivalent to a semester’s worth of in-classroom presentations. Students engage in writing and reflection through forum discussions on key course themes.
According to Reinert, “the course is designed so students can broadly explore the entire phenomenon from the actual Dracula of history to imaginative constructions in contemporary propaganda, art, folklore, modern literature and film.”
Professor Reinert is fully versed in the sources and literature on the Dracula theme, having served as coordinating translator and editor of Matei Cazacu’s comprehensive study entitled Dracula, published in 2017 (Brill). He is also a specialist on the Balkans in the 14th and 15th centuries, which includes medieval Romania and Transylvania, and has taught Dracula courses at Rutgers numerous times.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will have attained:
- Critical mastery of significant historical events in the mid-to-late 15th century pertaining to the histories of Wallachia, Byzantium, the Holy Roman Empire, Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire
- A close understanding of the life and achievements of “the historical Dracula,” and the sources which make such understanding possible
- A close understanding of late medieval/early modern beliefs regarding death, the nature of the soul, and the relationship between death and the “afterlife”
- A close understanding of how celebrated historical figures become transformed, in the course of time, into fictional creations reflecting varying historical and cultural influences
The course can be toward history major or minor requirements, and fulfills the pre-modern requirement. Register for this course.