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Undead Memory

Vampires and Human Memory in Popular Culture

Edited By Simon Bacon and Katarzyna Bronk

Vampires have never been as popular in Western culture as they are now: Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries and their fans have secured the vampire’s place in contemporary culture. Yet the role vampires play in how we remember our pasts and configure our futures has yet to be explored. The present volume fills this gap, addressing the many ways in which vampire narratives have been used to describe the tensions between memory and identity in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
The first part of the volume considers the use of the vampire to deal with rapid cultural change, both to remember the past and to imagine possible futures. The second part examines vampire narratives as external cultural archives, a memory library allowing us to reference the past and understand how this underpins our present. Finally, the collection explores how the undead comes to embody memorial practice itself: an autonomous entity that gives form to traumatic, feminist, postcolonial and oral traditions and reveals the resilience of minority memory.
Ranging from actual reports of vampire activity to literary and cinematic interpretations of the blood-drinking revenant, this timely study investigates the ways in which the «undead memory» of the vampire throughout Western culture has helped us to remember more clearly who we were, who we are, and who we will/may become.


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PART I Death and Becoming: How the Human Past Becomes the Vampire Future


Leo Ruickbie Memento (non)mori: Memory, Discourse and Transmission during the Eighteenth-Century Vampire Epidemic and After Experience first documented occurrence of vampirism! Become a witness of vampire story, that happened in Kisilova village, Habsburg Empire, 1725 A.D. Based on true, documented events!1 The villagers remembered a time when it had happened before, when the dead had returned to feed upon the living. All the signs were the same, all the deaths. We know this because in 1725 a deputation of Serbian villag- ers stood before the local imperial administrator, a man known only as Frombald, and told him so, and Frombald duly noted it in his report. Of course, none of them could have imagined that in the twenty-first cen- tury their story would be remembered in a computer game developed by a Seattle-based company, but forgotten in their own village. What appeared to be a novelty when Frombald’s report was published in a respected Viennese newspaper and would later be added to by other reports, fuelling a widespread academic debate and general alarm, was not new, but derived from the continuity of folk memory. The contrast between elite and popular culture, centre and fringe, city and country could not be greater in the conf lict of interpretation over the status of the dead on the frontline between the empires of the Habsburgs and the Ottomans. 1 Accessed from , 18 October 2012, accessed 11 January 2013. At the time of writing a video of the game was available at...

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