Exotic Homogeneity: Culinary Othering in Dracula

In Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), a strong theme of xenophobia is at stake. This xenophobia not only applies generally as a fear of the foreign Other in relation to the vampire, but also specifically to a fear of the vampire as a culinary Other. Dracula survives solely upon the consumption of human blood, so his diet renders him a culinary Other by its contrast to an actual life-sustaining human diet, and also by its contrast to the variance and diversity of nutrients required for human survival. Exemplifying that contrast, Van Helsing and his somewhat multicultural/multigendered crew consume a variety of foods from a variety of international locations during their pursuit of Dracula, while also using innovative technologies. The crew is stronger in their diversity, the vampire weaker in homogeneity. This contrast parallels many of the realities of late-nineteenth century food consumption after the advent of food technologies like processed foods.

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Soms deed je het vanwege Beek: Surveillance, subversion and the presence of death in Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s HEX

The plot of the novel HEX by Dutch author Thomas Olde Heuvelt appears deceptively simple: the small town of Beek (or Black Spring in the English translation) is cursed, its villagers haunted by the spectre of Katharina van Wyler. Set in a rural location, the inhabitants of Beek are isolated, unable to escape Katharina, who appears to them as a constant supernatural presence rather than a direct threat. To manage Katharina’s existence, an intricate surveillance network has been installed, consisting of a large number of cameras and even a dedicated app. The novel explores a clash between medieval curses and modern technologies, where themes of surveillance, monitoring and documentation are central to negotiating Katharina’s dead body. The paper will draw on the Dutch version of the novel, using it as a lens to highlight national attitudes to death and dying as demonstrated in contemporary horror fiction and its attitude to technology.

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‘Stop All The Clocks’: Elegy and Uncanny Technology

I examine subjective representations of time and space in elegy from the 17th century to the 21st century, focusing on how ordinary objects affect the elegiac environment. I argue that the defamiliarising of technological devices by the elegist creates uncanny sites of contact with the world of the dead. Using elegies by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, W. H. Auden, Sylvia Plath and Anne Carson, among others, I demonstrate a persistent motif of technological devices and scientific imagination in the genre. Stopping a clock interrupts the passage of time. Photographs create a static space where the past is present. The telephone allows connection to the dead. Studying the effects of these devices allows the interrogation of a critical narrative of shift from nature to science in the elegiac tradition, and the associated shift from healing to hopelessness, and emphasises the uncanny element of elegy and its impact on the space and time of mourning.

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