Open Graves, Open Minds: Bram Stoker Centenary Symposium Conference hosted by University of Hertfordshire
Keats House, Hampstead
Open Graves, Open Minds: Bram Stoker Centenary Symposium Conference
Symposium Flyer: Bram_leaflet
Symposium Poster with Schedule: AM721_poster_final
This symposium arose from the Open Graves, Opens Minds: Vampires and the Undead in
Modern Culture Research Project, led by Dr Sam George at the University of Hertfordshire.
Initiated by a prominent and exciting conference in April 2010, the Open Graves, Open Minds
project relates the undead in literature, art, and other media to questions concerning gender, technology,
consumption, and social change.
Delegates will investigate the most famous vampire narrative of all — Dracula — on the centenary of
Bram Stoker’s death and interrogate its relationship to new developments in interdisciplinary research,
drawing on nineteenth-century vampire archetypes. Dracula, of course, is the seminal vampire novel
(though it has its antecedents); a gripping narrative that dramatises anxieties over sexuality, new
technologies, foreignness, and modernity. Invited speakers will debate the evolution of Dracula from
novel to theatre, film to comic book
The symposium boasts an innovative and exclusive programme of talks and discussions in the period
setting of the house of Keats, who explored forbidden vampiric pleasures in his Lamia. We will be joined
for a centenary address by Sir Christopher Frayling, author of Vampires: Lord Byron to Count Dracula;
and Dacre Stoker, great-grand-nephew of Bram, and author of Dracula: the Un-Dead. Dacre, will
collaborate with Prof. Dr Elizabeth Miller, co-editor of the Dracula notebooks, to shed further light on
Bram’s notebook writings.
Delegates will be invited to do some vampirizing themselves on a trip to Golders Green Crematorium to
pay their respects to Bram on the centenary of his death. In this celebrity-packed resting place, Stoker’s
ashes eerily share company with Marc Bolan (‘Girl, I’m just a vampire for your love’); Sigmund Freud and
his disciple, Ernest Jones, who theorised the uncanny (Jones wrote on the significance of the vampire in
‘On the Nightmare’); Philip Burne-Jones, painter of The Vampire; Isaac Pitman (inventor of Mina Harker’s
shorthand); and Martita Hunt (who acted in Brides of Dracula).
The symposium will also anticipate the publication of Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of
Vampires from the Enlightenment to the Present Day (Manchester: MUP, 2012). Sam George and Bill
Hughes will introduce the OGOM research project. Select contributors to the book such as Stacey
Abbott, Catherine Spooner, Marcus Sedgwick, Ivan Phillips and Sam George will investigate Gothic
tropes and vampire archetypes more widely, drawing on their fields of expertise (celluloid vampires,
twenty-first-century Gothic, digital culture, young adult fiction and nineteenth-century vampire narratives).
Vampires, of course, haunt contemporary culture, and novelists such as Marcus Sedgwick, Paul Magrs
and Kim Newman will demonstrate how they are resurrecting the myth in inventive new ways.
Meanwhile, current research in Gothic studies is adapting creatively to this phenomenon, as our
speakers will reveal.
The symposium will bring together writers, academics, and critics in a number of in-conversation
sessions. The novelist Kim Newman will offer up a dialogue on Dracula and vampiric concepts in his own
writing in ‘Dracula and Anno Dracula’. In ‘Necrophilia to Technophilia’, the writer Marcus Sedgwick will
look at the folkloric origins of the vampire; and Kevin Jackson, author of the Vampire Handbook, will
investigate the vampire’s progress from fiction onto celluloid. The two talks combine to show how, very
often, technological and practical expediency has driven the artistry of this most crepuscular creature. In
the third of these collaborative panels, Paul Magrs (the ‘Brenda’ novels and 666 Charring Cross Road)
will share the stage with Gothic specialist Dr Catherine Spooner in ‘”I never drink – wine”: comic
vampires from Dracula to Alucard’. And with great felicity, the calendar reveals that there will be a full
moon on Saturday night!
Girl, I’m just a vampire for your love-and I’m gonna suck you!
(Marc Bolan, Jeepster)
For further information please contact Dr Sam George, Convenor of the Open Graves, Open Minds
Project, Senior Lecturer in Literature University of Hertfordshire