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Transylvania: Vampires, Peasants, Ethnic Diversity and Conflict


What is the mystical aura behind the name “Transylvania”?
Who has told the story of this region, and how has it been told?

For most Westerners, the name “Transylvania” invokes images of vampires and other mysteries, chiefly because of the influence of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But it is also a very real place with a many-layered multi-ethnic history indicated by its multiple names: Erdély in Hungarian, Ardeal in Romanian, Siebenbürgen in German. Stoker himself acknowledged this when his Count referred to Transylvania as a "whirlpool of European races." This class addresses the history of this region from multiple points of view: as the object of exoticism and Orientalism, as the locus of rich rural cultures of different ethnic groups, as a region critical to the history of Eastern and Central Europe, and as the object of national(ist) struggle. We will discuss Transylvania and “Transylvanism” through a variety of disciplines, including history, folklore, literature, politics, music and dance, and film.

Regions Covered


When Taught

Fall 2009


Department of Central Eurasian Studies