UPDATE Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture

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Dr Sam George, University of Hertfordshire
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Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture


University of Hertfordshire, UK 16-18th April 2010

The irony of creatures with no reflection becoming such a pervasive reflection of modern culture pleases in a dark way. Since their animation out of folk materials in the nineteenth century, by Polidori, as Varney and in Le Fanu and Stoker, vampires have been continually reborn in modern culture. They have stalked texts from Marx's image of the leeching capitalist, through Pater's Lady Lisa of tainted knowledge, to the multifarious incarnations in contemporary fictions in print and on screen. They have enacted a host of anxieties and desires, shifting shape as the culture they are brought to life in itself changes form. More recently, their less charismatic undead cousins, zombies, have been dug up in droves to represent various fears and crises in contemporary culture.

The aim of the conference is to relate the undead in literature, art, and other media to questions concerning gender, technology, consumption, and social change. It will provide an interdisciplinary forum for the development of innovative and creative research and examine these creatures in all their various manifestations and cultural meanings.

Keynote speakers will include
Catherine Spooner, University of Lancaster (Contemporary Gothic, 2006, Routledge Companion to Gothic, 2007)
Dr Stacey Abbott, University of Roehampton (Celluloid Vampires, 2007, Angel, 2009)

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

sexuality and the (living or undead) body
identity politics
Goth culture
new technologies
the metaphor of reflection
celluloid vampires: adaptations and incarnations
teen vampire/zombie fiction
undead TV
blood, money, and circulation
parasitism, production, and consumption
decomposition and decadence
the Undead as Other (nationality, class, gender, etc.)
vampiric art and/or the artist as vampire
Marx and the vampire

Abstracts (200--300 words) for twenty-minute papers as well as proposals for one and a half hour panels should be submitted as an email attachment to Dr Sam George, s.george@herts.ac.uk by December 31st 2009. Abstract should be sent in the following format: Surname as the document title. (1) Title (2) Presenter(s) (3) Institutional affiliation (4) Email (5) Abstract. Panel proposals should include (1) Title of the panel (2) Name and contact information of the chair (3) Abstracts of the presenters. Presenters will be notified of acceptance by the end of January 2010.
For more information, contact Dr Sam George at s.george@herts.ac.uk.