Memoirs of a Vampire Professor

Genres: Documentary
Duration: 54 minutes

The Princeton-trained academic Laurence Rickels was transferred by the vicissitudes of the job market to California in 1981. Several years into his work at the University of California, Santa Barbara he conceived a new course offering involving a shift from background to foreground. He advanced Freud’s passing reference (in Totem and Taboo) to the vampire as the model for the mourner’s experience of the ambivalence-enriched deceased at the outset of the mourning process to the front of the class.

Through the switch from example in theorization to plain text of what the theory is about he conceived the lecture class Vampirism in German Literature and Beyond. While maintaining the level of instruction as encounter with psychoanalysis, Rickels was taken by surprise when several years into this pedagogical experiment his class became the big curricular highlight on campus. The reputation of the lecture class made Rickels a local celebrity, a standing potentiated beyond the campus when The Vampire Lectures, the document of the class, based on student tape recordings, appeared in 1999.

The film is a memoir of this period in which Rickels, the memoirist, recalls his initiation into the popular culture of B-genres, which became a focus in much of his published work.

MEMOIRS OF A VAMPIRE PROFESSOR remasters documentary footage of two sessions of Rickels's legendary vampirism class at UC Santa Barbara, and intersperses the in-class analysis with scenes and outtakes from SPOUT (Alex Munoz’s short film based on the screenplay by Rickels) as well as with moments from a documentary about INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, which was filmed in and around the sessions the vampire professor dedicated to Anne Rice's undead masterpiece.

N.B. Like a therapist treating patients on a sliding scale, Rickels asks for a token payment for viewing the film on Vimeo so you might benefit from the kind of serious commitment to the session associated with classical psychoanalysis.

Photos by Claudia Peppel