“My revenge is just begun! I spread it over
centuries and time is on my side.” (Dracula, 1897)
Count Dracula’s declaration from Bram Stoker’s
iconic 1897 vampire novel is, in many ways, descriptive of the Gothic
genre. Like the shape-shifting Transylvanian Count, the Gothic
encompasses and has manifested itself in many forms since its
emergence in 1764 with the publication of Horace Walpole’s
The Castle of Otranto. Its revenge is just begun. It has
spread over centuries and time is on its side.
When Stoker wrote Dracula the genre was well over a
hundred years old but the novel marks a key moment in the evolution of
the Gothic. Dracula harks back to early Gothic’s
preoccupation with the supernatural, decayed aristocracy and
incarceration in gloomy castles in foreign locales. The novel speaks
to its own time but also transforms the genre and this revitalization
continues to sustain the Gothic today.
On the eve of the centenary of Stoker’s death, which occurred
in April 1912, the University of Hull is hosting a three-day
international conference. The conference will take place at the Hull
Campus of the University and at Sneaton Castle, Whitby. Conference
delegates will be based in Hull and coaches will leave Hull on Friday,
13 April for a day trip to Whitby.
In Dracula Mina describes Whitby as a “lovely
place” but it soon becomes a site of horror, when Dracula lands
from the Demeter in the form of a dog to make his first appearance on
English soil. At Whitby Abbey, Lucy becomes the Count’s first
English vampire bride.
Conference papers explore the iconic significance of Stoker’s
vampire novel and seek to reappraise Stoker’s work within its
fin-de-siècle cultural climate. They also
examine the broader context of the changing nature of Gothic
productions from the late eighteenth century to the present. Using
Dracula as a key point in the evolution of the genre, papers
explore the novel’s Gothic predecessors and influences, and the
manner in which Stoker’s work renewed the Gothic for future generations.
The conference asks how the Gothic’s early themes of despotic
rulers and fathers, grim prophecies, supernatural embodiments,
incarceration, labyrinthine passages and corridors, threatened
females, and sexual deviancy transform in subsequent cultural outputs
from novels, theatre, films, television and computer games. It
considers how the Gothic in its modern manifestations and variations
has sustained itself into a fourth century.
“At once escapist and conformist,” Clive Bloom argues,
“the Gothic speaks to the dark side of domestic fiction: erotic,
violent, perverse, bizarre and obsessionally connected with
contemporary fears.” The conference explores how the new Gothic
of the twenty-first century engages in fantasy and fear.
Prof. Sir Christopher Frayling
Professor Clive Bloom
Professor Luke Gibbons
a special presentation by
Professor Elizabeth Miller