Prasch teaches social history of vampires

Whitney Eastwood / Washburn Review

With Halloween lurking around the corner, the Washburn University History Department explored one of the most infamous creatures of the night.

Thomas Prasch, Washburn History Department chair, will be gave his annual lecture tonight, entitled “The History of Vampires.”

Prasch has been doing the lecture every year since he started at Washburn University as a professor in 1997. The presentation traced the history of the evolving vampire image from Lord Byron’s vampire in 1816 English literature to today’s vampire television shows and movies like “True Blood” and “Twilight.” Prasch supplemented his information with film clips.

 “The image of vampire constellates three key motifs: a fascination with the exotic ‘other,’ the promiscuous character of modern urban life and sexual exchanges,” said Prasch.

Prasch has long been interested in how the shifting image of the vampire corresponds to changing cultural circumstances while still preserving the three key motifs.

As a distraction during his dissertation writing, Prasch began doing film commentaries. His first project was the changing trends in blood sucking. He focused on movies like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Interview With the Vampire” and Coppola’s “Dracula.”

“The sheer longevity of the vampire means that we can use vampire representations to trace the shifting concerns of pop culture,” said Prasch.

According to Prasch, the images of vampires have shifted since the 1990s. Recently, vampires are no longer lone outsiders hiding from humans. Rather, they have become a full-fledged subculture with rules for interacting with outsiders.