Comparative Literature

The Undead in Literature and the Arts

Dragoslav Momcilovic, Lecturer

Course: COMPLIT 192, SEM 001
Class Number: 52784
Credits: 3 HU
Time: TR 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Place: NWQ G567

Course Description:

From Egyptian mummies to Eastern European vampires and Haitian zombies, the “undead” have cast their shadows over the literary imagination for centuries, from classical antiquity to post-modern reality. As they continue to surge in popularity, now more than ever, we must ask: why do the “undead” continue to haunt us? And why do we love being haunted by them? This first-year seminar explores the wealth of literature and art that has been overtaken by menacing figures caught between life and death. Our exploration will focus on four archetypal figures of the “undead” – the vampire, the re-animated corpse, the ghost, and the mummy – and students will be given the opportunity to engage in a final research project about an “undead” figure of their choice. Our texts will include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, various Japanese and Chinese ghost stories; zombie tales and “accounts” by Zora Neale Hurston and August Derleth; stories of the macabre by Edgar Allen Poe, Rabindranath Tagore, Alexander Pushkin, and Naguib Mahfouz; vampire poetry by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Charles Baudelaire; paintings by Francisco Goya and Remedios Varo; classical music by Franz Liszt; and films like Let the Right One In, Nosferatu, The Others, Night of the Living Dead, and Cronos. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S Int’l req.

About the Instructor:

Drago Momcilovic received his Ph.D. in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013.  His research and teaching interests include the Gothic tradition in world literature, monsters and monstrosity, the international graphic novel, and literatures of trauma and memory.  He specializes in Slavic, Italian, French and German literature, cinema, and popular culture.