Sunday, 27 October 2013

Dissertation Progress Part 1 (Intro+Chap1)


  1. Evening Mike,

    Really positive that you've commited to chapter 1 - and while I do have some feedback for you, I'm going to suggest that you actually just push on and get Chapter 2 written, as it's quite likely that your growing understanding of the subject will help you finesse what you've already written. So - some general feedback re. style;

    Avoid using language like 'find the truth' about female vampires. 'The Truth' always sounds a bit preachy. Instead, consider phrases like; this chapter will seek to investigate recurrent themes as expressed by the figure of the female vampire' or 'this chapter will examine the subtexts of the female vampire and seek to identify key similarities in terms of their meanings, and what those meanings can tell us about the the way society views women more generally...' The simple point is that 'uncovering the truth' sounds a bit melodramatic and not discursive or even-handed enough.

    In terms of Romanticism - I think you need to spend a bit more time dealing with prevailing mood of the rational and of science, against which Romanticism might be seen as a reaction; you should consider discussing Neoclassicism and Enlightenment thought in a bit more detail so as to give your discussion of Romanticism a bit more weight in chapter one. If, as you argue, the Vampire as we know it was a creature of the Romantic period, then you need to give this period more oomph in your chapter.

    The 'red hair' bit is fascinating and I think you can make a bit more of this: red hair was also associated with witchcraft (another type of trangressive, specifically female 'monster) - and red has always been associated with evil magic and particularly 'evil female power' - arguably the association comes from the fear of menstrual blood (culturally, patriarchy has always been fearful of women on their periods!). So a red-headed female vampire is arguable a 'doubly nightmarish' image - because of its menstrual associations etc.

    Generally, I think you need more illustrations throughout - of the women you describe. You don't always have to analyse the images you use - sometimes, the reader just wants some visual reference in support of the words.

    It would be good to get some more evidence in there in support of your statements; for example, when you suggest that Lamia was a caution against having children outside of marriage - it would make for a much stronger argument, if you could back this up with a quote.

    I think it's interesting that you use the phrase 'drain their fluids' a few times without exploring the obvious sexual connotations of this image - especially in light of the female vampire as being judged for being 'sexually confident' - I found this, thought it might be useful:

    If you haven't done so already, you should pay particular attention to Carmilla from Lefanu's story.

    Anyway - like I said, I think you should push on into Chapter 2 now. I'll see you tomorrow.

  2. Daughters of Darkness 1971

    Vampyres 1974

  3. Chapter 2: exploring 'transgression' as represented by the female vampire:

    Issues to research 'double deviance' (the idea that when females kill or are 'evil' they are guilty of a double-deviance - first is the act of evil itself, the second is that women are, culturally, not expected to be capable of such behaviour.

    The 'femme fatale' (fatal woman - i.e. if you give in to her 'charms' you are as good as dead'.

    'Monstrous feminine' - Barbara Creed

    Examining the appeal/importance/problem of the female vampire as trangressive role model for women and object of male fantasy and anxiety.

    Lesbianism as another 'example' of the transgressive nature of the female vampire...

  4. consider 'madonna/whore' categorisation of the female role :)

  5. see link: saw this thought of you!