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Becoming Vampire

Difference and the Vampire in Popular Culture

Simon Bacon

Becoming Vampire is an interdisciplinary study of how the figure of the vampire in the twenty-first century has been used to create and define difference, not as either a positive or negative attribute, but as a catalyst for change and the exploration of new identity positions. Whilst focusing on the films Let Me In and Let the Right One In to highlight the referential and intertextual nature of the genre itself, it utilises a broad spectrum of methodological approaches to show how the many facets of the vampire can destabilise traditional categories of who we are and what we might become. This volume then provides a timely examination of the multifaceted and multivalent character of the vampire and the possibilities inherent within our interactions with them, making this study a consideration of what we might term ‘vampiric becomings’ and an exploration of why the undead ‘creatures of the night’ remain so fascinating to Western culture.


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Chapter 1: The All-American, Un-American Vampire: Nationhood and the Vampire


Chapter 1 The All-American, Un-American Vampire: Nationhood and the Vampire As Let Me In begins and the opening titles fade, we are left with a totally black screen; only an ominous heartbeat-like sound, thumping in the back- ground, breaks the silence. The words ‘Los Alamos, New Mexico, March 1983’ appear on the screen. This very simple starting scene immediately places the narrative, and the vampire who is soon to be introduced, firmly in the United States. More so, there is a sense of something coming towards us – the beating heart indicating a life out of sight, unseen, but getting ever closer; a feeling which is vindicated when the blackness dissipates and we see an ambulance speeding along a winding road at night. This opening scene constructs the narrative as a point on a journey, an undead odyssey which has seen the vampire move from the old to the new world and onwards into the future. The vampire is very much about movement, not just in the physical sense but also ontologically. As Erik Butler notes: ‘“Vampire”, both as signifier and as a signified, moves between the categories of self and other, the familiar and the strange, and the temporal and the eternal’ (Butler 2010: 28). This interruption and disruption of space, of the blurring of the boundaries between categories, creates a space, or a trace/memory of the vampire, which is itself vampiric. This ‘other’ place, or place of othering, in turn destabilises the areas around it, allowing for new modes...

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