As the latest instalment of the Twilight film franchise prepared to hit UK cinemas one Lincoln-based academic said the essence of Bram Stoker’s original story Dracula has been lost.
Dr Sibylle Erle, Senior Lecturer in English at Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln, has an academic interest in portrayals of vampires down the ages.
She uses research comparing Twilight’s Edward Cullen and Bram Stoker’s Dracula as part of the syllabus for students on the English degree course at BG.
Dr Erle has been teaching a module this autumn called Terrors of the Night alongside a series of research seminars on vampires in literary history staged last month.
She is also interested in other Victorian Gothic monsters such as the creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a story re-explored this year by Tim Burton in his animated film Frankenweenie.
In her view contemporary vampires, as depicted in the Twilight series of books and films, are too far removed from the Victorian notion of a vampire to be satisfying.
“I teach Dracula, which is exciting as we are in the centenary year of Bram Stoker’s death, and I have been known to tell my students that Dracula and Edward Cullen have little in common,” says Sibylle. “Luckily most of them already know this.
“I’m working on the origins of the modern vampire story which kicked off in the early 19th century and my interest started with William Blake’s The Ghost of a Flea. The Flea embodies the more traditional type of vampire, the animal or monster, which Edward Cullen wants to move away from.
“The Flea is not a pretty boy; he looks like Mary Shelley’s monster and he shares with Frankenstein’s creature a full awareness of his own monstrous self.”
Dr Erle maintains that in its transition from horrifying Victorian monster to 21st-century romantic anti-hero – as epitomised by the likes of Edward Cullen or Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer – the true essence of Bram Stoker’s vampire story has been lost
“I like a good scare, and I like vampires to be vampires – real monsters, controversial and morally subversive and really scary.
“Many of the modern incarnations of the vampire story promote body image over how we are in the bodies we have. This is problematic because it alienates us from ourselves,” she added.