Call for essays: Race and Racism in The Vampire Diaries Franchise

deadline for submissions: 
July 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Deanna P. Koretsky, Spelman College
contact email: 

Demystifying Mystic Falls: Race and Racism in The Vampire Diaries Franchise

From the time it premiered on The CW in 2009, The Vampire Diaries was duly castigated in the media for uncritically tiptoeing around Civil War “lost cause” mythology and overtly tokenizing its Black characters. As the public later learned, minoritized actors were also treated poorly behind the scenes. Still, the series became a cultural juggernaut, boasting two successful spin-offs (The Originals and Legacies), reviving the book series on which the show was based, and inspiring a cottage industry of franchise-related institutions and conventions that, as of 2023, is just beginning to take off.

Although vampire narratives have long been read as vehicles of social disruption, The Vampire Diaries and its spin-offs consistently privilege white, heteropatriarchal social orders. With the cancellation of Legacies last June presumably marking the end of The Vampire Diaries’ extended universe, the time is right to assess the franchise as a whole and reflect on what it tells us about the culture that continues to eagerly embrace it.

To that end, essays are invited for an edited volume exploring the role that race and racism play in the narrative worlds of The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and Legacies, as well as the real world that consumes them. This volume will explore how race intersects with other identity categories (gender, sexuality, disability, class, etc.) on television and in the book series; how it structures power and agency in the storyworlds and behind the scenes; how it permeates the fan cultures associated with the franchise; and how ongoing fascination with the series reflects the tumultuous years of the Obama and Trump presidencies, the coronavirus pandemic, the racial uprisings of 2020, and beyond.

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

  • The relationship between the undead, social death, and racial politics
  • Black witches, Native American spirits, Confederate and Viking vampires, and other overtly racialized monsters and heroes
  • The series’ rewritings of local and global racial histories
  • The role of race in the series’ fan cultures, especially in the rise of franchise-inspired businesses and conventions in the small Southern towns where the shows were shot
  • How The Vampire Diaries reflects/challenges depictions of race in other popular vampire narratives, such as its immediate contemporaries Twilight and True Blood, and its clearest predecessor, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • How media and fan critiques shaped the franchise’s treatment of minoritized characters and actors within a single series or across all three 

For consideration, your submission must demonstrate knowledge of and engagement with scholarly methodologies relevant to the critical study of race and racism. Please submit a 300-word abstract, reference list of 3-5 relevant peer-reviewed sources, and 50-word author biography with current affiliation and email address to by July 31, 2023.

Final essays should be between 5000 and 7000 words and follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. Please use 12 pt. Times New Roman font (including endnotes), double space throughout, with 1-inch margins all around.


Projected schedule (subject to change):

Abstract/Bio/References        July 31, 2023

Acceptance Notice                   August 31, 2023

First Draft                                   December 30, 2023

First Edit                                     May 31, 2024

Final Version                             July 31, 2024