SCMLA: Vampires, Ghosts, Zombies :)

In live blogging this conference, I am following the conventions for conference blogging.

Except that I didn’t live blog because the internet did not like me and I forgot to post this immediately afterwards.

Chair: Kathleen Maloney, St. Mary’s U

1. “It’s Alive!: Authors Who Haunt Their Novels,” Kathleen Maloney, St. Mary’s U
Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein “my own vampire… my spirit let loose from the grave”
relationship of author to work, influence of parents and husbands, novel as metaphor…
1818, age of 21—critics have been trying to figure out how she did it
The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Birth of Frankenstein Both Victor and his monster would be motherless. Act of creation of central concern among visitors in her father’s house.
novel dedicated to William Godwin and anonymous author, thought Percy Bysse Shelley might have written it and tried to appease his FIL
Or Wm Godwin is an “author in absence”
…seven minutes of background of critical approaches…
“I bid my hideous progeny go forth and prosper” Shelley’s foreword in 1831?
Godwin’s writing about Wollstencraft, made Wollstencraft be looked at as a monster
Generally I work with dead authors. I often view the authors as extraneous.
Authors Incorporated: Authors in the U.S. 18??-????. by Blass. authorship as varied historical belief about importance
My course asks readers to think of themselves as readers. Course looks at epistolary texts. “only advice… is to take no advice… In order to read… the whole pleasure from a book… nature undertakes these transitions… The book will return…” (Woolf)
“hostess and her unknown guest…” (Woolf) author as hostess
Art of Fiction Henry James argues the novel is a living thing. “in each part there is something of the other parts”
James Smiley Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel goes into the world as the author proposed it… purity of the novel…

There is an implied as well as real exchange value.
The living person coexists with the literary persona. Both author and reader create the literary persona. Sometimes I admit I like my imagined version of the author better than the author themselves.
“Though reading and writing go hand in hand, reading is really writing’s antithesis…”
As an example of this, a list serve I’ve been lurking on. … One author said, I never know what to say to answer the question what your book is about…
A faculty for reading requires training.
Reading Oprah: How Oprah’s Book Club Changed America’s Readings Oprah
“Muse in the Machine” mass forum to elevate taste “a central approach… for what fiction should be… the right effect on the X psyche”
Toni Morrison “You enter the landscape of the novel…. You walk in there like an infant… It’s risky… Is this really technically possible? You suspend disbelief of everything that might not be possible in the material world.”
Morrison as reading coach. Interesting way to frame a modern author.
I think this ability to contact the author is modern and odd.
Attended a panel with multiple readings of a book. Author wanted to respond. Also at a different panel the author “corrected” a viable reading of a character.
Reading guide blurs the line between popular and academic reading.
I enjoy authors but only as an adjunct to the reading itself.
“I considered the being whom I had cast among mankind… my own vampire…” Mary Shelley

2. “Vampires Are So Five Minutes Ago or Zombies Are the New Black: Monsters, Intertextuality, and New Horror Metaphors,” Holly J. McBee, Dickinson State U, (North Dakota)

Our Vampires, Ourselves racial ethnic fears, sexual, embarrassing
1960s soap opera Dark Shadows changed the view of modern vampires, romantic version of the vampire—
last five to six years, unprecedented level of heroism and candyassness
books like True Blood, Twilight, etc love triangle with human woman
Vampires hardly seem to be a good metaphor for disease, etc
Zombies are not sexy heroes/wimps…
Simultaneous popularity of zombies and vampires. Zombies have risen to share new place.
Vampires = narcissism.
Zombies = consumerism.
Forever Knight or Moonlight have had the guilt-laden vampire trying to expunge their experience. Vampirism becomes their secret superhero
Buffy and Angel
Blood Ties: The Vampire and Popular Romances Woman accepts male vampire for what he is. Author says about equality. BUT Doesn’t talk about the female’s dreams and focuses on the love triangle.
Extreme development as romantic figures. Often violence done to take care of the damsel in distress. No longer an issue of violence: vegetarian blood, synthetic blood, etc.
Vampires have been defanged both over the dinner table and the bedroom.
Many of the women are defined by the consumption she chooses in which vampire she chooses. Not special because of attention, but women already have something special about them.
Note: she says Sookie’s special ness is her “tasty, faery blood” not her ability to read minds.
heroic vampire is more recent.
Zombies: A Living History half of zombie movies have been made since 9/11
referred to as infected, transferred as blood, horde factor terrifies, not easily purified—harder than vampires of holy water, zombies are created by humans, more contemporary versions look at science experiment run amuk
Vampires are rarely hordes. Creation of vampires often involves the willing.
Zombies are hordes. Accident or group creation.
Zombies consume… bite and make new zombies
high rate of obesity is high, consumption over that of the rest of the world
unlike in vampire narratives, zombie stories have specialness of humans. The living must face the guilt related to their survival, but don’t have to deal with their responsibility for the zombies.
28 Days Later (monkey infected), end of Shawn of the Dead news suggests monkey’s infected
The zombie narrative shows that guilt is no longer there for consumption. Zombie narratives endorse mindless consumption. Too self-focused to acknowledge each other.
Also, think of couple on a date and texting to someone else. If we can ignore them, how much easier to ignore the people on the other side of the world who created it?
Zombies feel no guilt. They don’t care. Self-absorption and mindless. No competition with each other. No remorse is not a good thing; there is no attempt at a cure. Season 2 of Walking Dead says everyone is already infected with the zombie infection; even if you die of natural causes, you will arise as zombies.
Zombies have taken over the disease metaphor.
Vampires represent self-absorption and the guilt that comes with them.
Zombies represent self-absorption and mindless consumption.
Wouldn’t it be easier if we didn’t have to deal with complexity of issues? That’s when we like zombies. But we want both at the same time. So we’ve got vampires and zombies at the same time.
We do not see sexy or troubled zombies. At this point, zombies cannot be sexy boyfriends… yet.

3. “Consuming Questions: Contamination, Food, Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, and Marnau,” Numsiri Kunakemakorn, Utah Valley U

Are our fears based on a question of quality? Or are they sanitized xenophobia?
Does getting back to basics mean shutting ourselves away?
Harry Potter= mudbloods and inclusion of them
California Proposition 37, GMO food labeling NOT passed
Language we use to discuss these topics:
saving our children
Need to consider this language.
Nosferatu’s Marnau is sent to talk to the Count. First physical contact is when Marnau cuts his thumb and the Count tries to suck the blood off. Count’s arrival in Marnau’s town is at the same time as rats and plague.
What should the townspeople believe? Is the count a decoy for the plague or vice versa? Lines between truth and reality are sidestepped for safety.
In Frankenstein:
Professor says One man’s death was nothing to my learning.
Science = good. Frankenstein says similar things. Create a species but then abandons the species to attempt to save his own species.
Who is the irrational being? the villagers or the count, the scientist or the monster
Sherlock Holmes is Holmes the “freak,” Holmes is foregrounded ahead of Dr. Watson. Their friendship is more equal. We just wonder who is the doctor and who is the freak.
“Pathological… Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes Series” South American arrow poisons, fumes of African root, blood borne diseases
exotic poisons and countries they came from… must be scarier because they came from somewhere else
“less civilized category of poisons” and “administered by more primitive…”
suspicions of science in medical practitioner place in the social hierarchy… Is it the author or the novel? Is it Frankenstein or the monster? Vampire = fear of the other or of science? We can dismiss vampires as entertainment, but what makes them popular at the same time we are talking about scientific discussions?
Do we identify with the villagers or the monsters? Who is the freak?
What is the connection and why is there so much interest NOW? Quacks and doctors?
compassion and self-interest
Are we focusing on the individual in spite of the community?
Example of the quack…
book: title and author?
1885, doctor brought up question “science and medicine” to describe his own practice, while “quack and charlatan” to describe everyone else’s practice
Zombie party would be fun. Too pretentious to go to vampire party.
“white trash party” where her doctor goes to, why not go to a “looking tacky” party instead? Why don’t they go to zombie party?

You know how they are manipulating you with vampire boyfriend’s.

Something wilder about zombies. Vampires operate in secret; I don’t need help. Zombies do the crazy stuff, less controlled, and part of the horde experience.

Vampires sneak in…

Vampire previously was the rebellious, dark lover, secret rendezvous. But now it’s about atonement and guilt and morality. How have we changed our culture? That’s why we need the zombies.

Vampires are always higher class.
Zombies are always a drop in class, no matter where you started.

author as hostess?
Author has to be pleasing, enchanting, not disturbing the reader?
Virginia Woolf quotation and Mrs. Dalloway “perfect hostess” which is both a compliment and an insult, as if she cannot do anything else
author = create an environment where someone else can enjoy themselves

children’s book where woman serves soup to the survivors who come through out after the war, family survived and mother and children are together

page on the author in the New York Times, but this is the author introduction
bringing information about the author is that interfering with their reading?

I don’t give biographical readings…

Is it good or useful to talk about the author or is it contamination?

“Rappacini’s Daughter”= always thought it was zombie-ish
wonderful short film in which they introduce a sexual dream…
idea of infection is there
something scientific and perhaps supernatural and food?

Is it exotic because it is tropical? Is it other?
“Is everything that’s pure good?”
all natural =/= good for you (cobra venom, belladonna)

What kind of purity? the closer you get to it
She is a good maiden of the 19th C, but her body is not, because of the infection.

teaching a zombie fiction class in the spring, I am curious, Laurie gave birth in Walking Dead and died in childbirth. Shares the infantile need to consume, like the zombie horde. “If she doesn’t eat, she will die.” and then she’ll become a zombie… The child is going to be a zombie.

Is childbirth a zombie? Is child a zombie?
Zombie metaphor must consume. We can’t let her live. We can’t feed her. Seems that the best option would be to kill her.

self-absorption and infants is true
partly why we want to be zombies
partly why we think we need to be less self-absorbed

zombies take refuge in the mall

online graphic novel Last Blood zombie apocalypse and vampires trying to save the last humans on earth, consumption possible… no trite romance, but Nazis get involved.
Working on the project of “city as monster” 1930s Lewis Mumford (engineer and anthropologist) who argues that advent of automobile was built on design for horse and walking
We agreed to ritually sacrifice 30,000 people a year, because we didn’t move the car roads away from horse and pedestrian traffic.

Is it science or half-hearted change that is the problem?
movie Metropolis 1920 art deco—city as monster, progress?

I am more interested in science, so skeptical of skeptics.
City centers that were abandoned. “re-animated” is it a Frankenstein monster? or zombie? urban renewal…

You pass by places that were mansions, but in a tumbled down neighborhood. Have a bus experience. Zombie experience feels like. How could people have courage to be mayors of cities like this?

19th and 20th century city…

“Shakespeare in the Bush” copy of Hamlet. Laura Bohannan. Anthropologist… rainy season came early. Test my universal understanding… witch, zombie, ghost… written in the late 1960s, whole new take on zombies…

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