Shadow and Voice: The Vampire's Debt to Secular Modernity




Maynard, Luke R. J.

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The past few years have seen a renewed critical interest in the vampires and vampirism of English literature, owing both to their growing influence in popular culture and a more inclusive reordering of the literary canon. Much of this recent work has typically approached vampirism through a psychoanalytic lens inherited from Gothic criticism, characterized by a dependence on Freud, Lacan, and Foucault, and often by a model of crisis in which these supernatural figures of terror are supposed to symbolize cultural anxieties with varying degrees of historicity. This dissertation builds upon the narrative of secularization set out in Charles Taylor’s recent work, A Secular Age, to answer the need for a new and alternative narrative of what function the vampire serves within English literature, and how it came to prominence there. The literary history of vampirism is reconsidered in light of the new sociological observations made by Taylor, hinging upon two key methodological principles: first, that Taylor’s new secularization narrative has the potential to reshape the way we think of literature in general and our literary relationship to the supernatural in particular; and second, that the fiction generated during this period of upheaval has much more to tell us about secularization, broadening our understanding of the ideological shifts and changing relationships to the supernatural that brought forth this uniquely modern monster in literature.



Secularization, Charles Taylor, Vampire, Gothic, social imaginary, Giaour, Christabel, Vampyre, Dracula, Modernity