The Universal Vampire
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The Universal Vampire

Origins and Evolution of a Legend
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Barbara Brodman
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This book presents the vampire as a truly international phenomenon, not restricted to the original folk character, the literary vampire (such as Dracula), or 20th and 21st-century film versions. Instead, we find examples of vampires from literally around the world: each culture and age reshaping the legend in its own image and even seeking psychological and scientific explanations to explain the phenomenon.
Since the publication of John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819), the vampire has been a mainstay of Western culture, appearing consistently in literature, art, music (notably opera), film, television, graphic novels and popular culture in general. Even before its entrance into the realm of arts and letters in the early nineteenth century, the vampire was a feared creature of Eastern European folklore and legend, rising from the grave at night to consume its living loved ones and neighbors, often converting them at the same time into fellow vampires.

A major question exists within vampire scholarship: to what extent is this creature a product of European cultural forms, or is the vampire indeed a universal, perhaps even archetypal figure? In this collection of sixteen original essays, the contributors shed light on this question. One essay traces the origins of the legend to the early medieval Norse
draugr, an “undead” creature who reflects the underpinnings of Dracula, the latter first appearing as a vampire in Anglo-Irish Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula.

In addition to these investigations of the Western mythic, literary and historic traditions, other essays in this volume move outside Europe to explore vampire figures in Native American and Mesoamerican myth and ritual, as well as the existence of similar vampiric traditions in Japanese, Russian and Latin American art, theatre, literature, film, and other cultural productions.

The female vampire looms large, beginning with the Sumerian goddess Lilith, including the nineteenth-century Carmilla, and moving to vampiresses in twentieth-century film, literature, and television series. Scientific explanations for vampires and werewolves constitute another section of the book, including eighteenth-century accounts of unearthing, decapitation and cremation of suspected vampires in Eastern Europe. The vampire’s beauty, attainment of immortality and eternal youth are all suggested as reasons for its continued success in contemporary popular culture.



Barbara Brodman and James E Doan, Introduction

Part 1: The Western Vampire: From
Draugr to Dracula

Matthias Teichert,“Draugula”: The
draugr in Old Norse-Icelandic Saga Literature and His Relationship to the Post-Medieval Vampire Myth

Paul E. H. Davis, Dracula Anticipated: The “Undead” in Anglo-Irish Literature

Alexis M. Milmine, Retracing the Shambling Steps of the Undead: The Blended Folkloric Elements of Vampirism in Bram Stoker’s

Cristina Artenie, Dracula’s Kitchen: A Glossary of Transylvanian Cuisine, Language and Ethnography

Part 2: Medical Explanations for the Vampire

Edward O. Keith, Biomedical Origins of Vampirism

Leo Ruickbie, Evidence for the Undead: The Role of Medical Investigation in the 18th-Century Vampire Epidemic

Clemens Ruthner, Undead Feedback: Adaptations and Echoes of Johann Flückinger’s Report,
Visum et Repertum (1732), until the Millennium

Part 3: The Female Vampire in World Myth and the Arts

Nancy Schumann, Women with Bite: Tracing Vampire Women from Lilith to

Angela Tumini,
Vampiresse: Embodiment of Sensuality and Erotic Horror in Carl Th. Dreyer’s Vampyr and Mario Bava’s The Mask of Satan

James E. Doan, The Vampire in Native American and Mesoamerican Lore

Katherine Allocco, Vampiric Viragoes: Villainizing and Sexualizing Arthurian Women in
Dracula vs. King Arthur (2005)

Jamieson Ridenhour,‘If I Wasn’t a Girl, Would You Like Me Anyway?’ Le Fanu’s
Carmilla and Alfredson’s Let the Right One In

Part 4: Old and New World Manifestations of the Vampire

Masaya Shimokusu, A Cultural Dynasty of Beautiful Vampires: Japan’s Acceptance, Modifications and Adaptations of Vampires

Tomas Jesús Garza, From Russia with Blood: Imagining the Vampire in Contemporary Russian Popular Culture

Adriana Gordillo, Dracula Comes to Mexico: Carlos Fuentes’ “Vlad,” Echoes of Origins, and the Return of Colonialism

Raúl Rodríguez-Hernández and Claudia Schaefer, Sublime Horror: Transparency, Melodrama and the
Mise-en-Scène of Two Mexican Vampire Films


About the Contributors