Introducing the Open Graves, Open Minds blog

OGOM_book_webThe Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture Research Project is led by Dr Sam George at the University of Hertfordshire, in collaboration with Dr Bill Hughes. The Open Graves, Open Minds project relates the undead in literature, art, and other media to questions concerning gender, technology, consumption, and social change, and was initiated by a prominent and exciting conference in April 2010.

The project has generated a series of events, publications, and inspiring discussions. Select papers from the 2010 conference have appeared in a special edition of Gothic Studies (May 2013); other papers and specially commissioned chapters appear in a monograph, Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of Vampires and the Undead from the Enlightenment to the Present (Manchester: MUP, 2013). Further publications will follow and more conferences are planned, including ‘The Company of Wolves’: Sociality, Animality, and Subjectivity in Literary and Cultural Narratives—Werewolves, Shapeshifters, and Feral Humans’—a conference to be held at UH in July 2015.

The founding OGOM researchers are:

  • Stacey Abbott (vampires in film and TV)
  • Sam George (the literary vampire)
  • Bill Hughes (the genre of paranormal romance)
  • Marcus Sedgwick (writing vampire fiction)
  • Catherine Spooner (contemporary Gothic culture)
  • Ivan Phillips (undead interfaces)

And currently involved are two PhD research students whose research is funded by the generous bursary from the University of Hertfordshire:

  • Kaja Franck (the werewolf in fiction from the nineteenth century to today)
  • Matt Beresford (Polidori and the Byronic vampire)

We include with gratitude, too, the contributors to the journal and book, and all the presenters and attendees of the 2010 conference and the Bram Stoker centenary symposium of 2012.

Kaja and Matt currently host the UH Gothic Reading Group which meets fortnightly to discuss creative and critical works in the field; you can follow their activities on the blog here.

The Open Graves book, though of wider interest, serves as a reader for the MA module, ‘Reading the Vampire: Science, Sexuality and Alterity in Modern Culture’ which Sam has pioneered at the University of Hertfordshire and which is an integral part of the Project. You can view the course schedule for the introductory module here. For enquiries, please contact Dr Sam George directly on s.george@herts.ac.uk.

Graves open up, and ghastly but fascinating creatures of the imagination emerge, spurring creative and analytic responses of many kinds. As with Bram Stoker’s Van Helsing in Dracula, encounters with the Undead have facilitated, in Dr Seward’s words, ‘an absolutely open mind’. The phrase, ‘Open Graves, Open Minds’, which graces this project, appears in Daniel Waters‘s young adult novel, Generation Dead. Dan very kindly allowed us to use this slogan, which we found aptly witty and inspiring. Waters’s powerful, often very funny, and moving novel (and its sequels) dramatises with great intelligence many of the striking themes in fictions of the undead which have been explored throughout this project. We would very much like to recommend his work to you.

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