KENT, Ohio -- An always popular class for undergraduates at Kent State
University, the Vampires in TV and Movies course draws students who are
fascinated with the pop-culture monster.
Mark Dawidziak has taught the course each semester since 2009, within the Journalism and Mass Communication school.
"Metaphorically, we use vampires to examine ourselves. As a species,
as a race. They are the perfect metaphor, because they look like us,"
His class meets one night a week, for just under three hours.
He brings props: Everything from capes to canes to action figures.
He also brings plenty of DVDs: Each lecture ends with a viewing of a vampire film or TV show.
The chairs and desks are always full, but don't expect to find a crowd of Twilight fans in the room.
The students come from all majors at KSU, and have interests in
vampire lore as varied as the interpretations of the creature itself.
"I have fashion students, theater, English, nutrition, journalism," Dawidziak said.
Students agree Dawidziak's enthusiasm for the subject make the lessons memorable.
"I think the class is a blast," said Ben Chronister, a senior at KSU.
Ben hopes to be a high school teacher one day, and says he's learned a lot from Dawidziak's methods.
"I want to be able to incorporate those elements into my own class when I'm teaching," Chronister said.
It's as much a study in history and media as pop culture.
Dawidziak, who is the TV critic for The Plain Dealer, has authored several books on vampires and the horror genre.
While big franchises like Twilight and True Blood have helped feed
the interest in vampires, the fanged creatures have been popular for
"That's always been the case. They've never not been hot," Dawidziak said.
Dawidziak expects they'll be popular for centuries more.
"You can't kill them. We will always have a use for vampires," he said.