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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 II Vampiric Memorials: Place, Space and Objects of Undead Memory

Extract

Katharina Rein Archives of Horror: Carriers of Memory in Buf fy the Vampire Slayer Regarded by many as the best television series of all time, Buf fy the Vampire Slayer is without a doubt a milestone in television history.1 The series that fandom theorist and novelist Camille Bacon-Smith referred to as “television gold Joss Whedon has spun out of vampire straw” (Bacon-Smith 2001: xii) features a number of unconventional and often brilliant episodes,2 mon- sters and apocalyptic scenarios as recurring metaphors for teenage crises, complex character developments as well as a refreshingly witty self-irony and self-ref lexivity. The show revolves around Buf fy Summers’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) battle against the forces of Evil in her role as the Vampire Slayer as well as her attempts to reconcile her calling with the yearnings and desires of a high school (and later college) student. In the course of its seven seasons, the series touches and dwells upon numerous topics sur- rounding coming of age, including defining oneself, taking control of and 1 Created by Joss Whedon, USA, 1997 –2003. Henceforth indicated as BtVS. 2 Among the most striking ones I would count “The Zeppo” (03/13), involving a twist on the show format; “Hush” (04/10), in which Sunnydale’s inhabitants are deprived of their voices resulting in ca. 27 of 44 minutes being devoid of speech; the experimental, dreamlike “Restless” (04/22), representing an anti-climactic finale to Season 4; “The Body” (05/16), the extremely touching episode depicting the death of Buf fy’s mother (Kristine...

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