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Victorian Vampires

The nineteenth-century was a time of great cultural and political instability, and the border-bending vampire perfectly embodied so many of the period’s fears—as well as its forbidden desires. This course will look at the range among, and legacy of, nineteenth-century vampire narratives.  Possible topics of conversation include the role of the vampiric Other in Victorian theories of nationhood, monstrous consumption in the mass marketplace, as well the vampire’s role in queering sexualities and subverting gender roles. We will, for example, look at the relationship between the monster and libidinal appetite in texts such as Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) or Le Fanu's Carmilla (1872). Selections from the popular penny blood, Varney the Vampire (1845-47), and Marx’s Capital (1867) will help us to understand the parasitic figure as metaphor for a new capitalist economy. We will also look at links between vampirism and the old aristocracy, or vampirism and modern technologies of mass reproduction, as represented in Stoker’s Dracula (1897). The course will conclude with a unit on adaptation, in which we will consider the vampire’s neo-Victorian legacy in film (BBC Dracula [2020]) and comics (American Vampire).  

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.