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Keep on Learning explores modern vampire

Keep on Learning Vampire class
Erika Lindgren, associate professor of history, lectures Waverly community members on the younger generation's recent obsession with vampire-themed books, movies and TV shows. — Erin Ridgeway/TRUMPET

What started as an interest in the television show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has now grown into the latest Keep on Learning session at Wartburg College.

Erika Lindgren has taught an IS 101 course about Buffy and decided it was time to use her research on vampires for something different.

Lindgren submitted a proposal last spring to the Keep on Learning Committee to teach a course called “A Guide to the Modern Vampire.”

“I want to explain to people who are grandparents why their grandchildren, particularly their granddaughters, are gaga for ‘Twilight’ and why there is all this vampire stuff on television,” Lindgren said.

Lindgren’s class will be the 69th session held by the Keep on Learning program since it was started in 2003. Class topics have ranged from science to literature, Frank Lloyd Wright to Beethoven.

The program allows members of the Waverly and Cedar Valley communities to attend lecture series taught by professors from Wartburg and the University of Northern Iowa. Each series has four sessions, the first of which is free.

Renee Voves, associate director of Alumni and Parent Relations, said the program has had great success, particularly in the past two years.

“Originally the program was started because there were people in the community that were interested in having a community and Wartburg connection and wanted to continue to keep on learning,” Voves said.

This interest has grown significantly since 2003. The 60 to 70 attendees are generally retirees from Waverly and the greater Cedar Valley area.

Lindgren said she likes the program because it engages the community and Wartburg and shows that learning does not have to stop after college graduation.

Through the series in November, Lindgren plans to explain the obsession with vampires through histories and folklore, literature and fiction, films and television.

Through excerpts, video clips and scholarly commentary, Lindgren said she wants to explain how vampires became the heroes in modern culture.

“I’m doing the history of a fake thing. I love it,” she said.

Steve Main, a retired Wartburg biology professor, and his wife Elaine Main, have attended Keep on Learning sessions for the past six years. Both said they enjoyed the opportunity to learn about something outside of their comfort zone.

“This helps us get out of our narrow world view. The professors get to talk about topics they are passionate about and we get to jump into an in-depth discussion,” Elaine Main said.

Lindgren said she was very excited to have the opportunity to teach the session and already has plans for future courses.

“It’s a way of showing that we as professors have these side-interests. That we are fully rounded people.”

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