New Texts for New Contexts: how composers keep texts alive!
Bram Stoker - Dracula – 1897
Neil Jordan – Interview With The Vampire – 1994
“So there are no Vampires in Transylvania, no Count Dracula? All fictions my friend, fictions of a demented Irishman” Good morning students and welcome to my class on New Texts for New Contexts. I just quoted Neil Jordan’s film Interview with the Vampire. This modern appropriation of Bram Stokers traditional Dracula narrative is the perfect example of how composers keep texts alive. Stokers Dracula written in 1897 is a classic piece of gothic literature and paved the way for the modern vampire and its popularity in contemporary popular culture. Jordan’s 1994 film Interview with the vampire invests in this same genre however updates it for a modern audience by telling the story of the main character Louis and his transformation from human to Vampire throughout the 18th century through the vector of an interview set in 1987. Whilst Stokers classic version clearly illustrates cultural and contextual values of his time, Jordan’s appropriated version keeps the text alive by playfully upending and modernizing many traditional values related to sexuality and the ability to adapt to change. Each composer skillfully utilizes the forms and features of their texts in a way that reflects key cultural and historical values of their time. In the late 18th century, gender roles were strictly defined and hardly ever crossed. The Victorian Era set firm guidelines for how men and women should act and what values they should portray, "there was a strict separation between the genders" (Tacon in Freeman 2008). The Victorian man was to be strong, brave, smart and decisive. The later Victorian woman was somewhat intelligent, capable and supportive of her husband. These values were strictly upheld if you wanted to be a contributing member in society. Stoker wrote Dracula, however, in the crossroads between this rigid era and the dawn of a new...
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