— “My revenge is just begun! I spread it over centuries, and time is on my side.” (Dracula, 1897)
Count Dracula’s declaration from Bram Stoker’s iconic 1897 vampire novel is, in many ways, descriptive of the Gothic genre. Like the shape-shifting Transylvanian Count, the Gothic encompasses and has manifested itself in many forms since its emergence in 1764 with the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto. Its revenge has just begun. It has spread over centuries and time is on its side.
When Stoker wrote Dracula the genre was well over a hundred years old but the novel marks a key moment in the evolution of the Gothic – the text harks back to early Gothic’s preoccupation with the supernatural, decayed aristocracy and incarceration in gloomy castles in foreign locales. Dracula speaks to its own time but also transforms the genre – a revitalization that continues to sustain the Gothic today.
On the eve of the centenary of Stoker’s death, which occurred in April 1912, the University of Hull’s Department of English and School of Arts and New Media, in association with the Centre for Victorian Studies, will host a three-day international conference, Bram Stoker and Gothic Transformations. The conference will take place at the Hull Campus of the University and in Whitby.
In Dracula Mina describes Whitby as a “lovely place” but it soon becomes a site of horror, when Dracula lands from the Demeter in the form of a dog to make his first appearance on English soil. At Whitby Abbey, Lucy becomes the Count’s first English vampire bride.
The conference is interested in the iconic significance of Stoker’s vampire novel and seeks to reappraise Stoker’s work within its fin-de-siècle cultural climate. It is also interested in exploring the broader context of the changing nature of Gothic productions from the late eighteenth century to the present. Using Dracula as a key point in the evolution of the genre, it seeks to explore the novel’s Gothic predecessors and influences, and the manner in which Stoker’s work renewed the Gothic for future generations.
How do the Gothic’s early themes of despotic rulers and fathers, grim prophecies, supernatural embodiments, incarceration, labyrinthine passages and corridors, threatened females, and sexual deviancy transform in subsequent cultural outputs from novels, theatre, films, television and computer games? How has the Gothic in its modern manifestations and variations sustained itself into a fourth century?
“At once escapist and conformist,” Clive Bloom argues, “the Gothic speaks to the dark side of domestic fiction: erotic, violent, perverse, bizarre and obsessionally connected with contemporary fears.” How does the new Gothic of the twenty-first century engage in fantasy and fear?
Please send an abstract of 250-300 words for a 20 minute paper to Dr Catherine Wynne (email@example.com) by 1 May 2011.
Topics may include, but are not restricted to, the following areas:
Stoker’s work in its social, political and cultural context
The development of the Gothic from Otranto to the twenty-first century
Stoker’s influence on the genre
Irish and British Gothic
Gothic theatre and drama
Gothic places and spaces
Hauntings and spectrality
Criminality and the Gothic
Science and the Gothic
Reincarnations of Dracula
Vampirism and the ‘Young Vampires’ of the twenty-first century
Anti-Gothic, Gothic Parody, Comic Gothic
The conference committee (Chair: Dr Catherine Wynne; Dr Charles Mundye; Dr Anna Fitzer; Dr Sabine Vanacker, Victoria Dawson, and Sara Williams) welcomes delegates to the University of Hull and Whitby to mark Stoker’s centenary and to celebrate his contribution to the Gothic.