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The Vampire Lectures

1999
Author:

Laurence A. Rickels

The Vampire Lectures

A wild and wide-ranging “psycho-history” of the vampire.

Bela Lugosi may-as the eighties gothic rock band Bauhaus sang-be dead, but the vampire lives on. A nightmarish figure dwelling somewhere between genuine terror and high camp, a morbid repository for the psychic projections of diverse cultures, an endlessly recyclable mass-media icon, the vampire is an enduring object of fascination, fear, ridicule, and reverence. In The Vampire Lectures, Laurence A. Rickels sifts through the rich mythology of vampirism, from medieval folklore to Marilyn Manson, to explore the profound and unconscious appeal of the undead.

I am quite amazed by many of Rickels’ observations in The Vampire Lectures, but above all, I'm honored to be included as a subject for study. The book is quite intellectually hefty. I think many of you will find this book interesting. Some of you will find it extremely challenging and engrossing. Many of you will find it satisfying. It’s the ultimate book to give to anyone who makes fun of you for liking vampire novels or films. I recommend it. It is incredibly rich and thought provoking. I'm grateful for it. When I write the novels, I think and feel as Lestat or Louis or Armand, and it's wonderful to read Professor Rickels’ commentary on what I've done.

Anne Rice

A wild and wide-ranging “psycho-history” of the vampire.

Bela Lugosi may-as the eighties gothic rock band Bauhaus sang-be dead, but the vampire lives on. A nightmarish figure dwelling somewhere between genuine terror and high camp, a morbid repository for the psychic projections of diverse cultures, an endlessly recyclable mass-media icon, the vampire is an enduring object of fascination, fear, ridicule, and reverence. In The Vampire Lectures, Laurence A. Rickels sifts through the rich mythology of vampirism, from medieval folklore to Marilyn Manson, to explore the profound and unconscious appeal of the undead.

Based on the course Rickels has taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, for several years (a course that is itself a cult phenomenon on campus), The Vampire Lectures reflects Rickels’s unique lecture style and provides a lively history of vampirism in legend, literature, and film. Rickels unearths a trove that includes eyewitness accounts of vampire attacks; burial rituals and sexual taboos devised to keep vampirism at bay; Hungarian countess Elisabeth Bathory’s use of girls’ blood in her sadistic beauty regimen; Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with its turn-of-the-century media technologies; F. W. Murnau’s haunting Nosferatu; and crude, though intense, straight-to-video horror films such as Subspecies. He makes intuitive, often unexpected connections among these sometimes wildly disparate sources.

More than a compilation of vampire lore, however, The Vampire Lectures makes an original and intellectually rigorous contribution to literary and psychoanalytic theory, identifying the subconscious meanings, complex symbolism, and philosophical arguments-particularly those of Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche-embedded in vampirism and gothic literature.

ISBN 0-8166-3391-6 Cloth £34.50 $49.95xx
ISBN 0-8166-3392-4 Paper £14.00 $19.95
376 Pages 5 7/8 x 9 September
Translation inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

The Vampire Lectures

Laurence A. Rickels is professor of German literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he also teaches art and film studies. He is the author of Aberrations of Mourning (1988) and The Case of California (1991), and editor of Acting Out in Groups (Minnesota, 1999--see page 26).

The Vampire Lectures

I am quite amazed by many of Rickels’ observations in The Vampire Lectures, but above all, I'm honored to be included as a subject for study. The book is quite intellectually hefty. I think many of you will find this book interesting. Some of you will find it extremely challenging and engrossing. Many of you will find it satisfying. It’s the ultimate book to give to anyone who makes fun of you for liking vampire novels or films. I recommend it. It is incredibly rich and thought provoking. I'm grateful for it. When I write the novels, I think and feel as Lestat or Louis or Armand, and it's wonderful to read Professor Rickels’ commentary on what I've done.

Anne Rice

Goth music lovers who prefer black as the color of choice and those of us who consider midnight the beginning of a night out on the town have found their spokesman and chronicler in Laurence Rickels, the author of the all-to-true, The Vampire Lectures. What began as a small lecture ten years ago has grown into a blockbuster. The whole nine yards is covered in this tell-all-eyewitness accounts of vampire attacks to medieval folklore ‘truths’. It’s an interesting, wild and very informative cutting-edge read for those sleepless nights at home . . . alone . . . in the dark.

Village Voice

The Vampire Lectures offers a sophisticated survey of vampire culture.

Publishers Weekly

From embalming practices to pop culture, Rickels draws on every possible vampire metaphor to make his points. . . . He returns repeatedly to Stoker’s Dracula to illustrate our psychodynamic reality, filled with death wishes, erotic substitution and symbolic meanings. . . . A sophisticated survey of vampire culture.

Publishers Weekly

More than an anthology of vampire lore, this book examines issues associated with the supernatural. The historical treatment ranges widely from runes to medieval folklore to current pop artist Marilyn Manson, weaving together complex symbolism and philosophical arguments associated with the nightmarish figures dwelling in netherland. Rickels mines the study of cult phenomena, including vampire attacks, burial rituals, and sexual taboos that are recounted in legends, literature, and folklore. This vigorous contribution to literary and paranormal theory collections will enhance the pursuit of often remote scholarship into mythology and sorcery.

Library Journal

The Vampire Lectures ranges widely and loosely through fang-filled literature and film, and argues that our relations to the dead, including the ghostly stains that the Other leaves on the psyche, fuel pop culture’s continued fascination with the undead. Quite fun to read.

Bookforum

The Vampire Lectures is exhausting in its attention and overwhelming in its application. Rickels cross-pollinates Stoker’s inceptive novel and its fifteenth-century inspiration (Vlad the Impaler) with obscure seventeenth-century newspaper accounts of the blood-bathing habits of Countess Elisabeth Bathory, current Goth culture and over fifty films—from Interview with a Vampire to Blacula. Rickels whips up an impressive vat of societal blood, sweat, and fears; and while he claims no grand conclusion about our ongoing fascination , he does suggest possible motivations for the ingrained symbolism (and therefore, appeal) of the vampire. The book is buoyed by Rickels’ constantly playful language-‘alle-gory,’ ‘fab-you-less’ and ‘shot in the darkroom.’ The Vampire Lectures is engrossing, challenging and—like the death, sex and AIDS that it evokes—morbidly fascinating.

Gadfly

The Vampire Lectures

Contents

IN MY PREFACE • ix
LECTURE ONE • 1
Histories of Vampirism, Stoker, Rice, Middle Ages, Eighteenth Cen-
tury—Alcoholics, Dead Bachelors, Heretics, and Suicides, among
Other Candidates for Vampiric Comeback—Sexology or Cryptol-
ogy—Succubus, Incubus — Blood, Andy Warhol Presents Dracula
and The Fearless Vampire Killers—Antiquity, Inquisition, Vlad the
Impaler, Countess Bathory
LECTURE TWO • 15
Eighteenth-Century Vampirism Epidemic in Eastern Europe, Jour-
nalistic and Scholarly Responses—The Plague, Discovery of Cir-
culation, Psychoanalysis — Medical Explanations—Death's Make-
over in the Eighteenth Century, Live Burial — Projection — Blacula
LECTURE THREE • 26
Stoker's Dracula—Circulation—Trips—The Castle inside Him—
The Lady's Lost Letters—Technologization and Group Psycholo-
gization — Horror of Dracula—"Dracula's Guest"
LECTURE FOUR • 40
Stoker's Dracula— Totem and Taboo—Incest Is the Law—The Two
Women, the Golden Lady, Hair Color Change, the New Woman—
Vamp
LECTURE FIVE • 51
Fourth of July—Mina's Gadget Love — The Telegraph — Cargo
Cult—The Cemetery in Whitby—Burial Service—Dracula's Daugh-
ter and Nadja—The Recorded Voice versus the Mass of Typewriting
LECTURE SIX • 64
Double, Insurance, Substitution — Photography and the Mummy —
Cinema, Cannibalism, and Melancholia — Back Home — Mirror
Stage — Spider Woman or Phallic Mother — Ewers's "The Spider" —
The Tenant— "The Antimacassar" — From Dusk till Dawn
LECTURE SEVEN • 77
Station Identification — "The Horla" — The Force of Invisibility and
Posthypnotic Suggestion — "Human Remains" and Face Value —
Vampire's Kiss—"Doom of the House of Duryea"
LECTURE EIGHT • 90
The Double Genealogy—The Black Cat and Universal Soldier—
Murnau's Nosferatu—Nina's Vampire Bond — Release from Empty
Circulation — Herzog's Nosferatu—Not Seeing
LECTURE NINE • 99
Bad Smell— The Lair of the White Worm — Opportunistic Diagno-
sis and "The Man Who Loved the Vampire Lady"
LECTURE TEN -111
Postal Pathology—Espionage and Psychological Warfare — Where
the Technology Goes When We Go to the Movies — Interview with
the Vampire and Bram Stoker's Dracula
LECTURE ELEVEN • 118
Browning's Dracula and the Bicoastal Count — Deane and Balder-
ston's Dracula or the Red-Eye Special — Lugosi's and Stoker's Lives
and Plan Nine from Outer Space
LECTURE TWELVE • 131
"Dragula" or "TV" — Famous Impostors — Browning, Chaney,
Lugosi — Ed Wood Jr.'s Glen or Glenda, Killer in Drag, Death of a
Transvestite—The Great-Nephew
LECTURE THIRTEEN • 147
"For the Blood Is the Life" and the Miscarriage of the Antibody—
"Four Wooden Stakes" and the Mother Is a Tramp — "Clarimonde"
plus One Is Nun—"Restless Souls" and Killing the Dead—"The
Sad Story of a Vampire" and Mama's Boy—"The Girl with the
Hungry Eyes" and Feedback
LECTURE FOURTEEN • 160
Le Fanu and "Carmilla" —The Schloss —The Name That Must Not
Vary—Supplying the Loss of Mother—The Hunger—Daughters
of Darkness— Vampyres
LECTURE FIFTEEN • 173
Dreyer's Vampyr—"Taboo upon the Dead" — Painting versus
Film — "Revelations in Black" and Blue — The Vampire Tapestry
LECTURE SIXTEEN • 189
Stephen King's Mass—'Salem's Lot and Danse Macabre—Ghost-
busting and Nazi Hunting in Salem's lot and A Return to Salem's Lot
LECTURE SEVENTEEN • 201
"They Bite" Big Time — "The Vampire" and Death Is a Painter of
Portraits — "The Room in the Tower" and "Mrs. Amworth" — The
Lost Boys—Peter Pan—The Case of California—The Gulf War-
Role Playing— Werther
LECTURE EIGHTEEN • 219
Near Dark—"The Tomb of Sarah" and Father Knows Best—Were-
woman — The Wolfman and the Living Dad — / Was a Teenage Were-
wolf or Totem Becomes Mascot— The Thing with Vampire Vegeta-
bles— "Who Goes There?"
LECTURE NINETEEN • 234
Burial Practice, Embalming — Freund's The Mummy—Strobl's
"The Tomb of Pere Lachaise" — Schizomummies—The Unwrap-
ping of Mummy Came First—Stoker's The Jewel of Seven Stars—
The Great Experiment, the Unconscious Father, Her Hand in Mar-
riage — Periodicity
LECTURE TWENTY • 249
Polidori's The Vampyre—Archaeology and Autoanalysis — Miss-
ing Persons — "Return of the Undead" — Blood ofDracula and Buffy
the Vampire Slayer
LECTURE TWENTY-ONE • 264
Varney the Vampyre—Group Psychology and the Quotation Marx of
Vampirism — Gambling— Rumor — Neighborly Love—Suicide—
Vampire Plays by Boucicault and Reece
LECTURE TWENTY-TWO • 277
Gothic—Mary Shelley and Frankenstein — William — Golem —
Whale's Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein
LECTURE TWENTY-THREE • 287
The Show of Grief—Public and Secret Identification — The Ghost-
writer's Preface — Dilation — Death Wish Fulfillment — William's
Murder, Victor's Vampire — The Mother's Portrait — Elizabeth Is
the Killer-Substitute — Flashback—The Alma Mater — Elizabeth
Must Die — The Missing Grave — The Monster Mourns — Why
Victor Can't Make the Mate — In Love with Electricity—Teenage
Frankenstein
LECTURE TWENTY-FOUR • 304
Drag Race of Mourning and the Finish Line of AIDS—Son of
Frankenstein — Andy Warhol Presents Frankenstein—Body Parts on
the Reassembly Line — Vampire Detectives — Pale Blood and Three
Subspecies—Good Citizens or Suicides? — Interview with the Vam-
pire— Lost Love — Nietzsche — Life Sucks — What's God Got to Do
with It? —Egotism —Life Is Killing —The Death Cult of Child-
hood— Locket—Casper and Doyle's Spiritism
LECTURE TWENTY-FIVE • 326
Revenge — "It Was" — Nihilism — Eternal Return — Third-Person
Pronouns — The Law of Pleasure
LECTURE TWENTY-SIX • 335
Innocent Blood—The Vampire Lestat—Relocation of Graves —
The Theatre des Vampires — Overman — Sacrificial Drive — Ma-
ternal Subcultures — Origin of Vampirism — Incest Is the Law—
Rock Music— The Queen of the Damned

REFERENCES
FILMOGRAPHY

The Vampire Lectures

UMP blog: The Ascent of the Vampire

10/28/2009
There are (at least) two developments supporting the return of the vampire. The first is that the vampire’s return displaces (from the screen) the dominance of zombie films we watched throughout the Bush years. The recent Zombieland is the diminishing return as farce of the tragedy that “Eight Years Later” we now must recognize: we thrilled to our survival through killing ambulatory corpses. It’s possible to argue that there was a generalized PTSD afflicting Americans during those years, with the actual cases back from Afghanistan and Iraq at the front of this line. The turn to vampires demonstrates a renewed capacity for affirmation of life as undeath rather than as zombie murder. It also means that identification with the dead or undead has again become possible (that one doesn’t identify with your average zombie is the point). This relationship to mourning or unmourning in vampirism was the main theme of my 1999 book The Vampire Lectures.
Read more ...