Thursday, May 6, 2010

Open Graves, Open Minds

Vampires are hiding out in academia. The University of Hertfordshire hosted a conference last month  entitled Open Graves, Open Minds to explore the "Americanization" of the undead in popular culture. But in typical professorial blather, they've managed to make vampires as unexciting as Twilight has. 

"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."

If you're still awake after that, this video from The Wall Street Journal (of all places) makes it seem much more interesting, particularly the part where they're eating "finger foods" out of a coffin replete with a skeleton. Looks like a lot of the Halloween parties I've seen.

While the program was put together by Dr. Sam(hain) George (heh!), it covered such gripping topics as identity politics, the metaphor of reflection, and "the artist as vampire Marx." I'm sure this was an excellent use of university resources, but somehow I think some of us haunters could have brought the conference to a much higher, more interesting level.



  1. Wow, hard to believe that someone could make something so interesting so boring :)

    Thanks for sharing, I did not know about this and really enjoyed reading about it...I mean skimming, I could not read it all....I would be asleep. :)


  2. Totally agree with Frog Queen...I had to skim too.
    Methinks that they are reading a tiny bit too much into vampirism and zombism when they try to link it somehow to Marx.



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