Tag Archives: Dr. Susannah Clements

Dracula — a word from the Library Book Club

First edition of Dracula, published by Archibald Constable and Company (UK), 26 May 1897 First edition of Dracula, published by Archibald Constable and Company (UK), 26 May 1897

This week (September 22 – 28) is Banned Books Week, so it seems appropriate to address the controversy surrounding Dracula, one of the titles on the Library Book Club’s fall reading list.

The purpose of the Library Book Club is to encourage the reading of literary classics as well as contemporary works that may become classics. We strive to read as diverse a list each year as possible. The main criteria for inclusion on the schedule are literary quality, readability and appropriate length, and projected interest by the Regent community.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, is a recognized classic in which Christian themes such as temptation, sin, and good versus evil are everywhere present. Dr. Susannah Clements, author of The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero, offers this explanation of the novel’s relevance for Christians:

Dracula is all about sin and faith. Stoker uses the figure of the vampire to explore metaphorically what sin and temptation look like—how sin infects the human heart and the consequences of it. Just as in other literature with fantasy elements (e.g. The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia), the fantastic, paranormal elements are used to give the author a way to explore themes in a context that strikes readers unexpectedly and therefore gives them more power.

It’s important to understand that the book is not on the side of the vampire (and therefore evil and sin). It’s all about how sin may appear darkly compelling, but how absolutely and invariably destructive it is. In more contemporary vampire stories, there is ambiguity around this issue—many of them questioning any sort of distinction between good and evil. There is no such ambiguity in Stoker. The heroes are Christian warriors, armed with faith and consciously seeing themselves as fighting the vampire for the sake of God’s kingdom. The novel is fully grounded in a Christian worldview. Ultimately, it is only faith in the power of Christ that leads to victory over sin, symbolized by the vampire.

Unlike The Arabian Nights, Canterbury Tales, and Leaves of Grass, among other classic works of literature, one distinction that Dracula cannot claim is placement on the list of frequently challenged or banned books. The Library Book Club invites readers who question the appropriateness of reading Dracula at a Christian university to read the novel, and join us on November 8 for a robust exchange of opinion.

National Library Week Roundup

Written by Georgianne Bordner, Harold Henkel, and Amber Wood

Tuesday, April 12th was National Library Workers Day, and this year the Library faculty chose this day to kick off Regent’s National Library Week observance by cooking a special breakfast for the Library staff and student assistants. That evening, the Library held its first public event for National Library Week with a book talk by Booker T. Mattison, Assistant Professor in the Department of Cinema-Television, whose new novel Snitch has just been released. Fifty-three people gathered in the Library Gallery to hear Prof. Mattison discuss and read from his book.

Snitch adds a positive Christian message to the genre of “street lit.” Over the course of the evening, Mattison emphasized the ways in which God had worked to make the writing, publication, and promotion of the book possible by putting all the pieces together at the right time.  Aptly, the main theme of Snitch is God’s sovereignty, along with the very real community problems surrounding silence and “snitching.”

Audience members who have already read the book said that they were very impressed with the character development and the readability, commenting “It’s just like watching a movie,” and “It’s a real page turner.” Librarian Bob Sivigny added:  “Mattison is a creative dynamo; listening to him is like catching up with a fast-moving train. I am so glad I went last night. Can’t wait to read Snitch.”

Plans are being made to adapt both Snitch and his first novel, Unsigned Hype, into films, with Mattison as writerdirector. Mattison will tour with Snitch through the summer.

On Wednesday, immediately following chapel, the Library helped four more Regent scholars launch monographs at a luncheon and book talk. Dr. Susannah Clements, Chair of the Department of Language and Literature, told the audience how the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer had sparked her curiosity about the treatment of vampires in literature and film, from Dracula through The Twilight Saga, leading to her writing of The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero. Dr. Clements described how increasing secularization explains the transformation of an embodiment of sin and evil in Dracula to an innocuous or even romantic figure in recent popular treatments.

Dr. Graham Twelftree, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, discussed the five-year genesis of The Cambridge Companion to Miracles, which involved collaboration with specialists around the world. With characteristic wit, Dr. Twelftree remarked that the experience had taught him humility and the falsity of the quip in academia that “if you can’t write, you can always edit.” At the end of his presentation, he presented an advance copy to divinity librarian Bob Sivigny, to whom the book is dedicated with the words, “To Bob Sivigny and all the other librarians who support our work.”

In the final segment, Dr. Alan Arroyo, Dean, and Dr. Hope Jordan, Professor, from the School of Education discussed their newly published The Secret Kingdom for Educators, which demonstrates how teachers can improve student learning by applying the principals developed by Dr. Pat Robertson in The Secret Kingdom. In their remarks, the authors thanked Dr. Robertson for his support of the project and the ten professors of the School of Education who contributed chapters.

Both book talk events ended with an opportunity for attendees to purchase the books and have them signed by the authors.  The Library staff is glad to have had a part in connecting some of Regent’s authors with their readers.

Video of “Snitch” launch

Video of luncheon and faculty publication celebration

National Library Week 2011: April 11-15

Read Any Good Books Lately? We Have. National Library Week, April 11-15, 2011

From April 11 through April 15, the University Library will celebrate National Library Week, an annual observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) since 1958. The purpose of National Library Week is to draw attention to the contribution of libraries and to promote their use and support. In celebration of National Library Week 2011, we will host events featuring recently published books by five members of the Regent Faculty: