Of all fictional characters, only Sherlock Holmes has appeared more often in films than Bram Stoker’s vampire, Count Dracula. Stoker, however, reworked what was already a long literary tradition about vampires, going back to the eighteenth century. Before then, this particular type of monstrous being was a novelty in most of Europe, having only appeared in its imagination from the 1720s. The vampire was in fact an amalgam of two much more ancient monsters, which came together in the Balkans during the early modern period, and broke into the rest of European belief when Austrian soldiers reached that region. This talk is designed to show how it was created, and dispersed, and to reveal the rich literary tradition that it had inspired by the nineteenth century. It will also show what was so different, and so compelling, about Dracula, which made him the most celebrated vampire of all time.
Speaker: Professor Ronald Hutton is a Professor of History at the University of Bristol. He is a leading authority on history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs.
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