Letting the Vampire In (8/9 December) - Submission deadline: 5 May, 2010

full name / name of organization: 
Ruhr-University Bochum

This interdisciplinary conference focuses on the recent surge of the vampire motif in popular culture to explore both its causes and consequences in literary and visual representations, especially aiming to shed light on cultural conditions and media formats.

We invite academic papers on the vampire cult, especially from postgraduate students. The conference addresses researchers from the fields of cultural studies, literature, media studies,
gender studies and the social sciences.

The fascination with vampirism has a long tradition for historians, cultural anthropologists and literary scholars. More recently, its analysis from the perspectives of media and cultural studies as well as the social sciences has become increasingly significant, as the vampire motif now increasingly permeates popular culture discourses of adolescence and social difference.

What is novel is the sheer dimension of the phenomenon within the last five years: With 85 million sold copies the impact of Stephenie Meyers Twilight Saga has been repeatedly compared to that of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter-series. Publishers have harnessed the attention aroused by this vampire romance: Numerous authors have diversified the genre and thus opened it up for further target groups. The sub-genre ranges as far as from vampire detective novels to boarding school novels (for instance, P.C. Cast's House of Night novels), from chick lit to re-writings of literary classics and historic biographies (e.g., Amanda Grange: Mr Darcy, Vampyre; Seth Grahame Smith: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). Within the last two years the vampires have staked out their own space next to the "horror" and "crime" shelves. The trend is spreading into new media formats while its economic relevance continues to increase: The box office results of the movies TWILIGHT (over 350 million US
dollars worldwide in 2008) and NEW MOON (over 680 million US dollars in 2009) place them on the list of the most successful movies of all times worldwide, thus encouring other productions such as THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT or DAYBREAKERS.

Whilst the TV shows BUFFY and ANGEL (WB Television Network 1997-2004) made the human-vampirelove story a popular motif in the late 90s and early 2000s, TRUE BLOOD (HBO 2008) and THE VAMPIRE DIARIES (CW Television Network 2009) now pick up on the topic on screen again. Correspondingly, one can find professional (e.g., I HEART VAMPIRES) as well as numerous amateur video-productions online. The latter mainly consist of commentary and reflection on the vampire-buzz, the fascination of which also lies in its nature as transmedia narrative. The fan movements of TWILIGHT, TRUE BLOOD and the like manifest themselves publicly as mass phenomena, hence questioning categorizations of fan culture
as subculture. The position of the fan as far off the cultural centre is long passé.

Topics may include (but are not limited to) the following:

- Social criticism and contemporary references 1: The vampire as
the Other, an allegoric figure representing marginal identities

- Social criticism and contemporary references 2: The bloodsucker as economic agent

- Social criticism and contemporary references 3: gender roles and their representations within vampire fiction and fan culture: discourses of power and of the body

- character and motif theory: facettes and transformations of the vampire as demon, villain, sympathetic hero and angelic figure as well as contemporary witness and historiographer

- literary and cinematic traditions and generic elements: Initiation and adolescence, fairy tale and fantasy, gothic, adventure, crime and erotic stories

- fans, consumerism and "convergence culture"

- Social models: blood ties and other family constellations

- Values: youth cult and "ageism" vs. experience and knowledge

Keynote speakers:
Dr Milly Williamson (Brunel University)
Dr Cornel Sandvoss (University of Surrey)

The conference will be held in English and German.

Selected contributions will be published in the 2011 spring
issue of the online journal "kultur & geschlecht"
Abstracts for twenty-minute papers or poster presentations (circa 500 words + short biographical note) should be submitted by 5 May 2010 to the organizers:


Sophie Einwächter, M.A.
(Media Studies Department,
Ruhr-University Bochum)

Verena Siebert, M.A.
(English Department,
Ruhr-University Bochum)