The Impact of a Myth:
Dracula and the Image of Romania in British and American Literatures
The project has an interdisciplinary perspective: between Dracula Studies, imagology and ethnology. This approach is a continuation of my doctoral research, which was carried out at the University of Turin. The PhD thesis entitled Imagining Transylvania: The Construction of a Mythical Space from Stoker's Predecessors to Dracula analysed the image of Transylvania in Bram Stoker's Dracula, drawing a parallel between images in the novel and images in the sources consulted by Stoker. If in my PhD thesis I focused on the relationship between what Stoker read and what he wrote about Transylvania, in the research proposed in this application, I intend to study the complexity of the Dracula myth and its impact on the reflection of Romania in British and American representations.
In my research I analyse the following themes:
1. The study of literary texts based on the dissemination and development of the myth of Transylvania as land of the supernatural / the Other, which may be regarded as playing on the need of sensationalism.
The following is a proposed text taxonomy:
a. Non-mimetic fiction: Transylvania is represented as a fantastic space and the reference to history and to a social or political context, is irrelevant or it is much weaker than the fantastic aspects: F. Saberhagen, The Dracula Tape (1975). D. F. Glut, Frankenstein meets Dracula (1977), C. Dean Andersson, I am Dracula (1998), J. Reese, The Dracula Dossier (2008, translated into Romanian in 2011), Dracula the Undead (translated into Romanian in 2010), etc.
b. Mimetic literary texts: the representation of Transylvania and Romania is completed by historical
and political aspects. These mimetic literary texts can be realistic (for instance B. Wilson, Trouble in Transylvania (1993)
or fantastic: R. Rudorff, The Dracula Archives (1971), D. Simmons, Children of the Night (1993), E. Kostova The Historian
(2005, translated into Romanian in 2006), S. Kaye Saunders, Riddler's Game - Vlad Dracula (2006) etc.
Another aim of this objective is to realise a synthesis of the films inspired from Dracula which carry on the stereotype of
Transylvania as the land of vampires - for instance Nosferatu (1922), Dracula (Universal, 1931), Dracula (1958), The Brides
of Dracula (1960), Love at First Bite (1979), Dracula (1979), Count Dracula (1977), Transylvania 6-5000 (1985), Daughter of Darkness
(1989), Dracula (1992), Dracula Dead and Loving It (1995), Dracula (2002), Van Helsing (2004), Dracula (2005), Transylmania (2009) etc.
2. The study of the literary texts which deconstruct the stereotype created by Stoker, representing Transylvania as a space of rediscovering the Self in dialogue with the Other Transylvania and, by extension, Romania are described as charming and fascinating places. The difference does not have negative connotations, but the encounter with the Other is a way to discover the self and the world.
a. Travel literature: H. Baerlein, And Then to Transylvania (1931), W. Starkie, Raggle - Taggle (1933), S. Sitwell, Roumanian Journey (1938), P. L. Fermor, Between the Woods and the Water (1986), Dervla Murphy, Transylvania and Beyond (1992), A. Ogden, Romania Revisited (2000) and Winds of Sorrow: Travels in and Around Transylvania (2004), C. Juler, Searching for Sarmizegetusa (2003), B. Riley, Transylvania (2007) etc.
b. Novels: A. Brownjohn, Long Shadows 1997, P. Bailey, Kitty & Virgil 1998.
3. The Western Vampire and the Romanian Strigoi: Similarities and Differences
a. The theme of the strigoi in 18th and 19th centuries British travel literature (Chishull 1747, Boner 1865, Gerard 1885, etc) and in the 20th century fictional representations of Transylvania.
b. Are there vampires in Romanian folklore? Terminological distinction: vampire - strigoi. The starting point of this analysis is Professor Hedesan's book on ghosts (1997) and P. Johnson's study (2001).
c. The Irish Folklore, a source for Gothic literature. Similarities and differences between the Ghosts of Romanian and Irish folklore. I start from Haining and Tremayne's work (1997) and Hughes and Smith's volume (1998).
d. The myth of the strigoi in British and American documentary films about the relationship between the Dracula myth and Transylvania. A Synthesis of the most representative documentary films about Dracula, such as The Vampire and the Voivode. The True Story behind Bram Stoker's gothic novel Dracula. Teleg Films 2008; Across the Forest. Tales from Transylvania. Justin Blair and Mathew Vincent 2009, "The Fallen Vampire - Bela Lugosi" 2007 etc.
4. A study of the Romanian response to the Dracula myth
a. Response from the historic point of view: M. Cazacu, Dracula (2008), N. Djuvara, De la Vlad Ţepeş la Dracula Vampirul (2003), Ş. Andreesecu, Vlad Ţepeş (Dracula). Între legenda şi adevar istoric (1998) etc.
b. A literary response (fictional works) - canonical writers: D. R. Popescu, Bram Stoker şi Contele Dracula (2002), M. Mincu, Jurnalul lui Dracula (2004) etc. and new writers (for instance, V. Lupasc, Rastignit între cruci, 2010).
c. Response of literary criticism: studies in Romanian - D. H. Mazilu, Un Dracula pe care Occidentul l-a ratat (2001), R. Iulian, Dracula sau triumful modern al Vampirului (2004); studies in English: C. Andraş "The Image of Transylvania in English Literature" (Journal of Dracula studies 1999), P. Brînzeu, Corridors of Mirrors (1997, 2000), A. Ciugureanu, "The Dracula Myth: Exile and Homecoming" (Ovid, Myth and (Literary) Exile 2009) etc.
Bibliography of the project
For the Bibliography of the Project please click here