March 17, 2010

Anne Rice to discuss vampire book, film via SKYPE

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Famed author Anne Rice will visit Southern Illinois University Carbondale next week via SKYPE technology to take part in a philosophical discussion of vampires and their present popularity.

The SKYPE interview is set for 6:15 p.m. on March 24 in the Student Center Auditorium. It is followed by the movie “Interview with the Vampire.” Rice wrote the screenplay, and also the novel on which the movie is based.

The interview touches on several activities under way in the Department of Philosophy. The Philm and Philosophy Club selected the current vampire phenomenon as this semester’s theme. The club typically shows several films on a theme in a semester, proceeded by an introduction including a few philosophical precepts and followed by discussion of the film according to a philosophical framework.

The facilitator for the “Interview with the Vampire,” and the interviewer for the vampire-story author, is Randall Auxier, professor of philosophy and the editor of the prestigious “Library of Living Philosophers.” Auxier is also a frequent contributor to the “Popular Culture and Philosophy” series from the Open Court Publishing Co. Auxier is represented in Volume 49 of the book series, “Zombies, Vampires, and Philosophy.”

Sarah Palm-Stikkers, a liberal arts student from Carbondale (whose father is a philosophy professor), helped organize the Philm and Philosophy events this semester.

Palm-Stikkers said she broached the idea to take Philm and Philosophy “in a slightly different direction than usual” to the club’s founder, graduate student Rebecca Farinas.

“I feel like there is a huge disconnect between your average college student and an understanding of philosophy,” Palm-Stikkers said. “Every person my age I know practically cringes when they hear the word ‘philosophy.’ I really wanted to find a way to bridge that gap and get average students interested in and discussing philosophy in an interesting way that everyone understands… It occurred to me that we should try to capitalize on the current vampire obsession that seems to be taking over the world these days.”

For this event, Farinas contacted Rice, a friend, and found that the author was interested in engaging students in a philosophical discussion of her work and vampires generally.

The club, now in its third semester of programming, has in the past tackled “Film and Propaganda,” and “Film and Cross-Cultural Dialogue.” The format includes an introduction by a faculty member, often but not always from the Department of Philosophy, about the film and some philosophical or ethical concepts presented in the film, a screening of the film, and a facilitated discussion.

Farinas noted, “We hope the club expands into the area of written scholarship, and we hope to publish a Philm journal one day.”

Other films up for screening and discussion this semester include “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and then either “Twilight” or episodes of “True Blood.”

SKYPE is a computer software application that allows real-time dialogue between people in locations distant from each other.

The Graduate Professional Student Council and the Philosophy Club present this free event.