Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Identifier

942

Date

2013

Date of Award

7-23-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

English

Concentration

Literary and Cultural Studies

Committee Chair

Stephen Tabachnick

Committee Member

Jeffrey Scraba

Committee Member

Carey Mickalites

Committee Member

Charles Hall

Abstract

What might one make of the contemporary vampire's tentative assimilation into the mainstream, as opposed to Dracula's antiquated vampirism? Does the vampire's corporeal permutation reflect progress and freedom from old prejudices or is it, ultimately, a beautifully pre-packaged illusion? These are questions that this dissertation attempts to answer by examining the figure of the vampire in written and visual texts of British and American writers from the nineteenth century to the present. In contrast to readings in the dominant critical tradition that figure the vampiric body only as a reflection of its immediate historical and cultural context, my intention in this dissertation is two-fold: firstly, I argue for a correspondence among various texts and historical periods as well as articulate an interpretive "vampire" paradigm - collecting recurrent patterns - that better explicates the obsessive historical continuity of the vampire with its idiosyncrasies in Western culture; secondly, a paradigm emphasizing the continuity and not solely the mutability of the vampire allows us not only to generate a unified text about the kind of developments that have been taking place in the Anglo-American space since the nineteenth century, but also to collect the multifarious anxieties and trends specific to Western society during the past two centuries into a more coherent phenomenon. Extending Judith Butler's understanding of gender performativity to include all variables of identity, and replacing these variables and the binaries that they engender with the all-encompassing dichotomy center-periphery that characterizes Western discourses, I analyze how several authors have employed the performative in relation to vampires to understand the kind of negotiations that have transpired between the dominant ideology and marginal values in the Western space since the nineteenth century. By comparing the nineteenth-century hegemonic model to the late twentieth and twenty-first-century responses to cultural and ethnic diversity, I argue that the vampire's adaptive performative body reveals not the evolution of the central ideological apparatus but the way in which "otherness" or "difference" is aestheticized, stylized, and sanitized today under the pressures of consumerism and a constant push for multiculturalism, as opposed to how it was "uglified" in the nineteenth century.

Comments

Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.

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