Women and Vampire Fiction: Texts, Fandom and the Construction of Identity

Williamson, Millicent. 2001. Women and Vampire Fiction: Texts, Fandom and the Construction of Identity. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis examines what vampire fiction and vampire fandom offer to women and uses as a case study the accounts offered by women fans in New Orleans and Britain. Textual approaches to vampire fiction and femininity have largely proposed that just as the woman is punished by being positioned as passive and masochistic in the texts of Dracula, so too is the female viewer or reader of the texts. This thesis argues that such approaches are inadequate because they impose a singular ('Dracularesque') structure of meaning which both underestimates the variety of vampire fiction available and ignores the process of reading that women interested in the vampire figure engage in. It is argued, based on the women vampire fan's own textual interpretations, that the vampire can be read as a figure of pathos who elicits the fans' sympathy because of its predicament. It is further argued that this approach to the vampire appeals to the women because it brings into play a melodramatic structure which resonates with certain problematic experiences of feminine identity that are often suppressed in our culture and thus difficult to articulate. The figure of the vampire offers women fans both a channel for their creativity and a means of rebelling against the imposed norms of femininity.

It is a well-rehearsed position in theories of fandom that the activity that fans engage in is a form of rebellion or resistance. However, this thesis has suggested that the rebellion that the women fans engage in is a rebellion of the 'self which is both filled with contradictions and limited to the personal sphere. Furthermore, through a comparison of two fan clubs, it will be argued that fandom is not automatically a culture of resistance and that different fan clubs position themselves in relation to two opposing, yet dominant, sets of values in the cultural field. Vampire fandom offers women the chance to construct alternative identities, but participation in fandom does not constitute resistance to dominant culture.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



vampire fiction, fandom, femininity, Dracula, rebellion

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

08 Jun 2020 14:08

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:36



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