In case you are living under a rock, the final instalment of the film version of the Twilight series was released in theatres last week. Am I being overly sensitive about the idea of grown women fantasizing about teenaged boys? Why does our culture have this strange double standard? If 35-year-old fathers were lining up at movie premieres to get their photos taken with Dakota Fanning, we'd scream bloody murder.
Most people go to Greece for beaches, ouzo and temples gleaming in the Mediterranean sun. I went for a vampire. But what I found there led me beyond pop culture images of vampires to a darker part of the human imagination. In the midst of searching for ancient ruins, an archaeological team from UBC stumbled on a cemetery from the time of the Ottoman empire. The lead researcher wanted an osteologist to study the skeletons -- especially one that might have been accused of being a vampire. There wasn't much question of not going, of course.
Vampire science is already poaching some of the best. The woman who teaches vampires at Harvard is a serious scholar of Romantic English literature. Now, Lord Byron did in fact invoke the undead in "The Giaour." But don't kid yourself: it's still a huge and weird notional leap to go from Byron Studies to Vampire Studies.