20-21 April 2012; Keats House, Hampstead
When from this wreathed tomb shall I awake!
When move in a sweet body fit for life,
And love, and pleasure, and the ruddy strife
Of hearts and lips!
(John Keats, Lamia)
Delegates will investigate the most famous vampire narrative of all-Dracula-on the centenary of Bram Stoker’s death and interrogate its relationship to new developments in interdisciplinary research, drawing on nineteenth-century vampire archetypes. Dracula, of course, is the seminal vampire novel (though it has its antecedents); a gripping narrative that dramatises anxieties over sexuality, new technologies, foreignness, and modernity. Invited speakers will debate the evolution of Dracula from novel to theatre, film to comic book
The symposium boasts an innovative and exclusive programme of talks and discussions in the period setting of the house of Keats, who explored forbidden vampiric pleasures in his Lamia. We will be joined for a centenary address by Sir Christopher Frayling, author of Vampires: Lord Byron to Count Dracula, and Dacre Stoker, great-grand-nephew of Bram, and author of Dracula: the Un-Dead. Dacre will collaborate with Prof. Elizabeth Miller, co-editor of the Dracula notebooks, to shed further light on Bram’s notebook writings.
Delegates will be invited to do some vampirizing themselves on a trip to Golders Green Crematorium to pay our respects to Bram on the centenary of his death. In this celebrity-packed resting place, Stoker’s ashes eerily share company with Marc Bolan (‘Girl, I’m just a vampire for your love’); Sigmund Freud and his disciple, Ernest Jones, who theorised the uncanny (Jones wrote on the significance of the vampire in ‘On the Nightmare’); Philip Burne-Jones, painter of The Vampire; Isaac Pitman (inventor of Mina Harker’s shorthand); and Martita Hunt (who acted in Brides of Dracula).
The symposium will also anticipate the publication of Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of Vampires from the Enlightenment to the Present Day (Manchester: MUP, 2012). Sam George and Bill Hughes will introduce the OGOM research project. Select contributors to the book such as Stacey Abbott, Catherine Spooner, Marcus Sedgwick, and Ivan Phillips will investigate Gothic tropes and vampire archetypes more widely, drawing on their fields of expertise (celluloid vampires, twenty-first-century Gothic, digital culture, young adult fiction and nineteenth-century vampire narratives).
Vampires, of course, haunt contemporary culture and novelists such as Marcus Sedgwick, Paul Magrs and Kim Newman will demonstrate how they are resurrecting the myth in inventive new ways. Meanwhile, current research in Gothic studies is adapting creatively to this phenomenon, as our speakers will reveal.
The symposium will bring together writers, academics, and critics in a number of in conversation sessions. The novelist Kim Newman will offer up a dialogue on Dracula and concepts in his own writing in ‘Dracula and Anno Dracula‘. In ‘Necrophilia to Technophilia’, the writer Marcus Sedgwick will look at the folkloric origins of the vampire; and Kevin Jackson, author of the Vampire Handbook, will investigate the vampire’s progress from literature onto celluloid. The two talks combine to show how, very often, technological and practical expediency has driven the artistry of this most crepuscular creature. In the third of these collaborative panels, Paul Magrs (the ‘Brenda’ novels and 666 Charing Cross Road) shares the stage with Gothic specialist Dr Catherine Spooner in ‘”I never drink – wine”: comic vampires from Dracula to Alucard’. With great felicity, the calendar indicates that there will be a full moon!
Girl, I’m just a vampire for your love—and I’m gonna suck you! (Marc Bolan, Jeepster)