Sunday, October 3, 2010


Please finish the rest of Carmilla and read through Tamar Heller’s essay “The Vampire in the House: Hysteria, Female Sexuality, and Female Knowledge in Le Fanu’s ‘Carmilla.’” You can find this essay on D2L.

Your blogs will be due on Wednesday at 11:59 pm.

Your comments on other student blogs will be due by FRIDAY at 11:59.

In addition to your blogs and comments, you also must post in one or more of the discussion forums on my blog by Friday at 11:59 pm. You do NOT have to post in all of the forums, but I will be assessing you on how well you are able to respond to the various prompts and each others' ideas. Remember that Forum C is an open forum, so if there is something you would like to discuss that hasn't been addressed by me or another student, please post there.

1) In “The Vampire in the House,” Heller connects themes of vampirism in Victorian literature with female hysteria. What sorts of connections does she draw in her essay? Do you agree with Heller’s analysis? Can we see Laura and Carmilla as extensions of the Victorian discourse surrounding “hysterical” women? How so?

2) Heller suggests Le Fanu’s Carmilla is an early version of what has become a very familiar narrative of the lesbian “vamp” devouring young girls. In this narrative, she writes, “Both the body of the lesbian and the mind of the victim she brainwashes are the site of a battle over who gets to define, and hence to control, femininity and its desires: women or the fathers, priests, and doctors who are the story’s male ‘knowers’” (80). What do you think she means by this statement? How do you see this sort of narrative functioning within Carmilla?

3) Within her essay, Heller connects vampirism with Victorian anxiety surrounding menstruation and masturbation. What are some of the connections she makes and would you agree with her interpretation?

4) Heller connects Carmilla’s vampyric presence with the East, saying, “This feminine invasion is figured in terms of imperialist anxiety, for Carmilla rides into Styria—already, because of its orientalism, an only tenuously domesticated zone—like the return of the repressed colonized Other” (84). For this blog, conduct an internet search on these two key terms—“orientalism” and the phrase “return of the repressed.” Share what you find with the class and explain how we might see Carmilla as a manifestation of imperial anxiety.

5) Along with our first “lesbian vampire,” this text also contains our first “vampire hunter” character. How would you characterize this figure? How is he described? Would you agree with what Heller implies in her essay that this character symbolizes “male” ways of knowing? Or is he some sort of conduit? Use examples from both the essay and Carmilla to explain your answer.

6) We only read Carmilla through a transcript written from Laura’s point of view. For this blog, feel free to rewrite a scene from another character’s perspective.

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