Open Graves, Open Minds

For those who are not aware, the University of Hertfordshire is home to a interdisciplinary research project on Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture called ‘Open Graves, Open Minds‘ (now extended to include those more hirsute cousins – werewolves). The name of the project comes from Daniel Water’s Generation Dead series, and it a slogan to encourage the social inclusion of those who are ‘differently biotic’. The lead contact is Dr Sam George who runs the MA Literature Module ‘Reading the Vampire: Science, Sexuality and Alterity in Modern Culture’.

From a personal point of view, the ‘Open Graves, Open Minds’ conference in 2010 was my introduction into the world of academic vampire studies and was hugely inspirational when writing my MA dissertation.

I am therefore over the moon (slight lycanthropic pun intended) to say that there is now the OGOM blog which articulates far more eloquently the aims and achievements of the project. As well as this Sam George is offering an undergraduate module entitled ‘Generation Dead: YA Fiction and the Gothic‘ – the reading list is posted on the OGOM blog and includes the eponymous Generation Dead. Now, that may seem plenty, but hold onto your horses, hats, and underskirts if necessary as there is also the ‘Company of Wolves’ conference coming in July 2015 looking at werewolves, shape-shifters and feral children. (It’s okay to loosen your corset and grab your smelling salts at this point).

Which if nothing else proves there is no better time to be studying the Gothic in all its guises (Gothic: the ultimate shape-shifter?). For further encouragement there was recently a wonderful blog posted on ‘The Gothic Imagination’ website entitled ‘Why Study the Gothic’ – extra points for the use of the Boromir/ Sean Bean meme. Well worth a read over a cup of tea and chocolate digestive.

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5 thoughts on “Open Graves, Open Minds

  1. Hi all. You may already be aware, but just in case you aren’t, that there is a gothic exhibition currently being held at the British Library called ‘Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination.’ The exhibition contains two hundred rare objects from 250 years of the gothic tradition.

    This is the summary on the website:

    ‘From Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick and Alexander McQueen, via posters, books, film and even a vampire-slaying kit, experience the dark shadow the Gothic imagination has cast across film, art, music, fashion, architecture and our daily lives.
    Beginning with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, Gothic literature challenged the moral certainties of the 18th century. By exploring the dark romance of the medieval past with its castles and abbeys, its wild landscapes and fascination with the supernatural, Gothic writers placed imagination firmly at the heart of their work – and our culture.
    Iconic works, such as handwritten drafts of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the modern horrors of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and the popular Twilight series, highlight how contemporary fears have been addressed by generation after generation.
    Terror and Wonder presents an intriguing glimpse of a fascinating and mysterious world. Experience 250 years of Gothic’s dark shadow.’

    In addition to the exhibition, there are several events being held, including ‘The Vampire Years: Dracula on Screen’ this Friday 17th October, where there will be a panel of Hammer experts, film-makers and actors exploring some unforgettable versions of Bram Stoker’s 1897 creation. This is being chaired by Christopher Frayling. It will be followed by a screening of the Hammer version of ‘Dracula’ starring Christopher Lee. It starts at 6.30 pm and there are still tickets available (only £7.00 for students).

    Other events include Susan Hill in Conversation (author of ‘The Woman in Black’), Anne Rice’s midnight book launch of ‘Prince Lestat’ and a gothic study day on December 6th, which will be a day of presentations from leading gothic specialists such as Fred Botting and David Punter. (£14 for the whole day for students).

    The link to the home page of the exhibition is here: http://www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/gothic/index.html

    • Hi Joanne. Thanks for commenting. I very much aware of the BL Gothic events as I spend lots of time at the British Library studying away. I have got tickets for the Study Day – can’t wait – and am going to the late night event on Halloween.

      October is definitely the month of the Gothic!

  2. Jo and I are going to the Hammer Horror event on Friday, chaired by Christopher Frayling, which sounds really exciting, plus the study day. Hope to see you there. Sadly I can’t make today as I am now doing some courses with U3A in Cambridge and will have to alternate. I recall Fraying covering Dracula’s Guest really well in his book on vampires. Hope It goes well and keep me up to date,
    Thanks, Bev

    • That sounds awesome. Sad you can’t make it to Reading the Gothic this semester but I hope you enjoy your course with the U3A.

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