Dr. Eileen Jankowski
What has made bloodsucking, immortal creatures so captivating in innumerable myths from across the world? In what ways do certain undead "monsters" vary from culture to culture? Lastly but perhaps most importantly, what can vampires in fiction–both recent and ancient–teach us about what makes a monster and what makes a man? Through the careful analysis of numerous vampire myths from different time periods, locations, and cultures, I aim to delve into the significance of vampires in fiction and explore how people have perceived such distinctive creatures throughout history. This search for the first notable, obvious vampire myths dates all the way back to Ancient Greece. In multiple cases, people from all cultures and time periods often developed their vampires with etiology in mind. Vampire myths were frequently used to explain what the most recent scientific breakthroughs could not, such as the early tuberculosis outbreaks in 19th century New England. On the other hand, multiple vampire tales have been regarded as myths told to dissuade the public from participating in “shameful,” often sexual acts, presented as a means of encouraging purity in all aspects of life. In more recent years, vampires in works like Twilight and Carmilla (the web series, not to be confused with the 1872 novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu) have often retained their ancient ties to sexuality and romance. However, they have also begun to develop into much more complex, three-dimensional characters rather than adhering to their more traditionally evil archetypes with each passing decade. By dissecting how views on immortality, power, sexuality, and even vegetarianism have developed over time within these stories, we can further understand how vampires have lacked or gained their own degree of humanity throughout fiction.
Sieberg, Lauren, "Vampires: Breathing Life into the Undead “Monsters” of Mythology" (2018). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 305.