Vampyrer : En kulturkritisk studie av den västerländska vampyrberättelsen från 1700-talet till 2000-talet
Sammanfattning: Vampires haunt our culture. They live amongst us, they live with us, and very likely, they live for us. Considering the never fading popularity of vampires, it is obvious that these beings satisfy some kind of basic human need. Why are vampires so popular? What kinds of specific characteristics do vampires possess that lead to our never-ending fascination with them? These are questions that are answered in this dissertation, which deals with the vampire narrative’s most significant transformations during the period 1700-2000. This study reveals that the vampire is a monster that allows both identification and distance, which makes it into an appropriate character for people to use when they tell stories about themselves and the surrounding world. This is reflected in vampire narratives. The nature of vampires and the material of vampire narratives are not something that has undergone random changes in the course of history. These transformations have their origins in various societal and cultural processes. Through studying the historical and cultural contexts that have produced vampire narratives, one can understand why vampires have been portrayed in different ways at different times and places. Similarly, studying the vampire narrative can also be used to understand the history and culture in which the narrative was created. An examination of the vampire narrative’s history from a cultural criticism perspective reveals a distinct pattern. The vampire narrative has always attracted most attention in times of social and cultural unrest. In all of the varying contexts where vampire characters appear throughout a story, a power game is occurring – a game where the vampire’s character is strategically used to express political opinions and strengthen ideological beliefs. The constant appearance of vampires in such power games is a distinctive feature within the history of vampire narratives, and the societal turbulence leaves its impression on the vampire narrative. These impressions are analyzed and interpreted in this dissertation in order to reveal the power and the strategies of power within the discourse in which the narrative has been produced. In order to describe how the vampire character has functioned and continues to function in what the study calls conflicts of power relations, the term and phenomena power improvisation is used. In the description of the history of the vampire narrative, one can discern two important sub-processes. The first describes how the vampire character and narrative have been fashioned into what they are today. During the period of interest, the vampire is transformed from the un-dead of folklore to an attractive nobleman and further into to a Count Dracula, in order to simultaneously be portrayed as what this study terms a human vampire. The second sub-process explains why the vampire character and narrative have been fashioned into what they are today. It describes the political and ideological beliefs which exist in the society where the vampire form is created and which give birth to different kinds of vampires. If, in the past, the vampire was a monster that was used to portray that which humans are afraid of, today it is a monster with which humans identify. This, claims the author, is due to the fact that the age in which we live is to a great extent imbued with the logic of consumer culture. People in a consumer culture live lives filled with demands which influence their self-image. Feelings of inadequacy and isolation are typical. For people of today, the vampire is an ally that offers an alternative and meets those needs that are neglected in a consumer society.
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