Contemporary stories show the world through the eyes of vampires

The open lecture series of Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies gives the floor to evil. Among others, Dina Khapaeva will give a talk about vampires and nightmares.


Bloodthirsty vampires have once again resurfaced as stock characters of popular culture in films, computer games and as cult figures in novel series. Contemporary vampire stories differ substantially from the previous tradition, however, according to Dina Khapaeva, Fellow of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies.

- Vampires and other non-human characters have become main characters and protagonists whereas previously the stories were told from the perspective of human characters who were provoked by non-human characters to act in certain ways. For example in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the main character is the creator of the monster, not the monster, Khapaeva says.

Referred to as the Gothic aesthetics by Khapaeva, the cultural trend denies both Christian and scientific explanations of good and evil. It has also lost some of the symbolism traditionally incorporated in the stories.

- The non-human characters represent only themselves, they have no allegorical dimension. The most important symbolic purpose of the characters is to annul the significance of people. In the world of the stories, the human race has proved a disappointment, it is uninteresting.

The Gothic aesthetics is, in Khapaeva's opinion, a new kind of cultural challenge. Children reading the stories will identify with the vampires and other non-human creatures instead of the human characters. Why are these stories so popular?

- Most of this fiction is geared to induce nightmares in the reader or viewer. The experience of a nightmare is enticing for the public, Khapaeva says.

Dina Khapaeva’s lecture entitled Vampires and Nightmares: A Cultural Challenge? given on 11 November is part of the multidisciplinary Approaches to Evil and Wickedness lecture series for students and the general public. The lectures will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:15–3:45pm, beginning on 2 November at Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, address Fabianinkatu 24, auditorium 136 (except on 9 December in Auditorium XII at the Main Building, Unioninkatu 34).

Approaches to Evil and Wickedness programme (pdf) » »

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Text: Tiina Palomäki
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Translation: AAC Global

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