Decoder Ring

The Philosophy of Vampires

Presenting the vampire as metaphor.


Episode Notes

Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every episode, host Willa Paskin takes on a cultural question, object, idea, or habit and speaks with experts, historians, and obsessives to try and figure out where it comes from, what it means, and why it matters.

In literature, the choice to become a vampire is a metaphor for transformational experiences. On this episode, we bring you a story from Slate’s Hi-Phi Nation podcast, which explores problems in contemporary philosophy through story. From real-life blood suckers, to Lord Byron, to Twilight, vampires are a tool for philosophers to think about otherness, sexuality, and the transformative experiences we all go through in life.

Hi-Phi Nation is hosted and produced by Barry Lam, chair of philosophy at Vassar College. This episode is co-hosted by Christina Van Dyke, emerita professor of philosophy at Calvin College. You’ll also hear from vampire expert, author, and professor Dr. John Edgar Browning, and Laurie Paul, professor of philosophy at Yale and author of Transformative Experience.

To listen to more Hi-Phi Nation, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and read more about Hi-Phi Nation and past episodes at its site.



About the Show

In each episode, host Willa Paskin takes a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters.

All episodes


  • Barry Lam is host and producer of Hi-Phi Nation and Professor of Philosophy at UC Riverside, and Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University.