The vampire as eugenic examiner, 1880-1896.

DYSON, Gennie Marie. (2013). The vampire as eugenic examiner, 1880-1896. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

This thesis is concerned with the way in which the figure of the vampire is used by some authors of nineteenth century fiction to eugenically test their victims: killing and sterilizing where they find degenerate behaviours that would harm society were the victims allowed to breed. This occurred not only in texts by well-known authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'John Barrington Cowles', Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Olalla' and Mary Elizabeth Braddon's 'Good Lady Ducayne' but also in the fiction of less familiar authors such as Count Eric Stenbock's 'A True Story of a Vampire'. I argue that the victims that feature in these tales can all be considered a danger to society and the vampire functions to examine, judge and carry out necessary execution where needed. Close textual analysis and examination of period scientific theory and newspapers will demonstrate how some authors, through the familiar symbol of the vampire, discussed social problems and suggested cures through the use of selective breeding programmes. Critical thought has placed the fin de siecle vampire in a negative role, especially in academic writing relating to Dracula; the vampire is seen as changing and degenerating society with their 'otherness' in a harmful way. My original contribution to knowledge is to offer a new perspective which suggests that this general perception needs to be nuanced, because I reveal how some of the vampire texts of the late nineteenth-century viewed the vampire as a more constructive symbol. While I acknowledge that vampires are seen as a destructive force in these texts, what they wreak is not destruction in a negative sense but in a positive one that will ultimately benefit society by removing potentially harmful elements.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2013.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:19
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2018 08:11
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19588

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