Blood, Enjoyment and Belonging in Selected Vampire Fiction

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dc.contributor.advisor Summers-Bremner, Eluned Satele, Daniel 2020-11-05T22:36:43Z 2020-11-05T22:36:43Z 2020 en
dc.description.abstract This thesis argues that blood is the central object of the vampire genre. Since the entry of the word ‘vampire’ into English in the early eighteenth century, human understanding of blood changed drastically. Yet the vampire’s blood-drinking remained its definitive characteristic. Moreover, in vampire stories the human characters also draw blood, wielding knives, guns, needles and more, in efforts to establish or defend the type of community in which they wish to live. The modern vampire is born, in part, out of the confrontation of the Enlightenment with blood itself. Due to blood’s centrality to western premodernity, its complex symbolism, along with its status as a real substance that is indispensable to human life, blood was uniquely placed to both mark and carry surplus meaning as western culture faced rapid upheavals with the onset of modernity. The vampire genre became a forum for probing and interpreting unresolved questions of belonging and exploitation that emerged. To serve this function the genre used blood as the definitive object of vampiric enjoyment. Combining Lacanian psychoanalytic understandings with medical history and the close reading of a range of vampire texts, this thesis traces how premodern beliefs about blood as individual and collective essence never fully disappeared, even in the face of scientific and medical discoveries that disproved them. In the late nineteenth century, older ideas about blood as heredity morphed into eugenicist beliefs that blood was the agent of racial degeneration. Several vampire texts incorporate elements of eugenics discourse. In the twentieth century, when eugenics was disavowed, blood nevertheless remained a symbol for race and essence. As Jim Crow segregation ended in America, postmodern vampires who relate to their blood-drinking with reluctance appeared. The ironic distance between postmodern vampires and their earlier counterparts meant that the genre provided a means for exploring the afterlife of eugenics, given the vampire’s history as a racialised monster. Case studies of three novels – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (1954) and Fledgling (2005) by Octavia Butler – are centralised in this discussion. A conclusion examines the first season of the television series True Blood (HBO, 2008).
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. en
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dc.title Blood, Enjoyment and Belonging in Selected Vampire Fiction
dc.type Thesis en English The University of Auckland en Doctoral en PhD en 2020-10-15T22:35:34Z
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en
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