Dracula in Romania: From Myth to History with Dr. Guillaume Durand

Dracula in Romania: From Myth to History with Dr. Guillaume Durand


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Count Dracula is the first name that comes to mind when we think of Romania. But there is more to the story than the notorious vampire of literary fame. In this seminar, we will uncover the myth of Dracula and explore the real history of Vlad the Impaler in the context of Romanian history and landscape.

Our exploration begins with a discussion of the history of the real Dracula, Vlad Tepeş, and how he came to rule Wallachia in southern Romania in the fifteenth century. We will learn about Vlad’s exploits with Ottoman ruler Mehmet II and the role of the Christian Orthodox religion in Romania at the time. We will visit the main places where his name is still revered today: Targovişte, just north of Bucharest, Poenari, where he built one of his castles, Cozia and Curtea de Argeş, two cities which testify to his link with the founding dynasty of Wallachia, and lastly, the Monastery of Snagov considered by some historians to be his burial site.

Next, we will look at Bram Stoker’s character, Count Dracula, and the archetype of the vampire. We will trace the author’s curiosity in this mythic villain back to Transylvania and the Germanic peoples who lived there. Centuries ago, they wove the tales of the blood-thirsty man upon which Stoker built his gruesome stories. Here we will see how economics and politics have played a role in the diffusion of the Dracula story and the impact on modern-day Romania.

Led by an expert on ancient and medieval art history, Dr. Guillaume Durand, this interactive seminar will explore the history of the Romanian prince who inspired the literary character, Dracula. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of Romanian history and the places in the country which evoke the legend of Dracula.

This seminar is excerpted from Dr. Durand's Romania: A Multi-Part Journey

Guillaume Durand, Ph.D., fell in love with Romania on his first visit at age 20.  He has dedicated his academic career to the Ancient and Medieval history, art, architecture, and archaeology of Romania. He has spent many years traveling to Romania for research purposes and continues to visit to attend international conferences and lectures and also to guide groups of academics and tourists. He is also an assistant dean and professor in archaeology and art history at the Institute for American Universities and the American College of the Mediterranean in Aix-en-Provence, France.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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