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A 'ghastly operation': transfusing blood, Science and the supernatural in vampire texts.

The symbolics of blood in vampire literature and films, although analysed by critics, have often been confined within the privileged discourses of psychoanalysis or historicist readings. These readings at times fail to acknowledge the specific meanings of blood that arise within the historical context in which these vampire texts were written or directed. Consequently, critics tend to stress a limited spectrum of meanings of blood, and to use blood as a support for their specific discursive practices. While such readings enrich our understanding of vampire texts, they fail to appreciate the importance of blood as a vital fluid, and in particular, as matter and an object of scientific discourses circulating within a specific historical context. I want to pay due attention to blood as scientific matter by focusing on blood, and not merely on the figure of the vampire, in order to flesh out a wider range of meanings of blood in such texts. In this way, as the biblical scholar K. C. Hanson observes in regard to blood, 'Context is everything in determining its significance and emotive power.' (1)

The main argument here is that science and the supernatural are a constant preoccupation in vampire texts, made evident through the competing meanings of blood as a symbolic or supernatural fluid and, on the other hand, as an empirical material. By examining blood transfusion in vampire texts my intention is to draw connections between this medical technology and vampirism in order to establish the different ways the body and identity of the vampire, and its victim, are constituted and affected by the dangerous circulation of blood. Notions of penetration, loss or change of identity are not evoked through the dangerous exchange between the vampiric and human, but through blood as an independent agent carrying vampiric viruses and transgressing the boundaries of bodies. Vampire texts then manifest anxieties about identity that arise through the symbolic value of blood, but also through its increasing medicalisation.

The politics of life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was a politics of health, preoccupied with wellbeing and disease, epidemics, birth and death rates, and ways to cure the body itself. (2) Blood in this context was a material substance to facilitate the restoration of life. With its use in transfusion blood was a gift, creating and reasserting the bonds of a community. In Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897), for example, blood becomes the medium to explain and understand vampirism: blood transfusions invite an exchange between the primitive energies of a barbaric past and the technologies of modernity. Victorian scientific positivism and the supernatural were conflicting forces in a changing world that manifested its anxieties about modern science, and faith in the supernatural and religion, through the vampiric and scientific powers of blood. Blood, being inside the body, was believed to carry identity and the individual's temperament. Without the interference of scientific tools and knowledge, it was invested with magical and occult meanings as a vital rejuvenating fluid. In short, blood was a synecdoche of the body and of the embodied self.

However, such meanings were contested by the development of medical discourse and technologies which offered a more rational understanding of blood as a neutral fluid of medical and social significance. Earlier vampire texts posit mysticism at the center of the narrative, proving that science is unable to fight the supernatural powers of blood (Stoker's Dracula), or attribute to science diabolical powers (Braddon's 'Good Lady Ducayne'). Later, vampire narratives of the twentieth century conversely marginalise the supernatural in favour of science that can provide the 'truth' about blood and vampirism. As John J. Jordan explains, 'The scientization of myth occurs when scientific discourse ascribes within the culture a proper mode of understanding for mystical objects, allowing them a public, yet regulated and marginalized existence.' (3) In this vein, scientific discourse dominates non-scientific discourse in order to discipline and ascribe to it a 'proper' and logical meaning.

Beginning from the late nineteenth century and moving on to the twentieth century, I want to trace the circulation of blood as topos in vampire texts. The discovery of the circulatory nature of the blood system by the seventeenth-century English physician William Harvey, along with the publication of his book De Motu Cordis (1628), prompted experiments in blood transfusion. Jean-Baptiste Denis, with the help of C. Emmerez, performed the first blood transfusion to a human from an animal in June 1667 in France. A similar transfusion was performed in November of the same year in England by Lower and King. (4) Denis' blood transfusion from a lamb to a human, in 1667 ended in excessive bloodletting and the man's death, and led to a ban on blood transfusion by the Parisian Faculty of Medicine. (5) Douglas Star refers to Charles Darwin's grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, who proposed in 1794 that blood transfusion could possibly allay fevers and malnutrition, but there is no evidence of him performing it. (6) The first transfusion of human blood was not performed until 1818 by James Blundell at the United Hospitals of St Thomas and Guy's in London. Although the patient died, Blundell's experiments revitalised interest in transfusion and led to experiments with new technologies and methodologies. (7)

The development of this biotechnology was a mystery for the scientists themselves. Blundell conceived blood in vitalistic terms, as a re-animating fluid, while his descriptions of transfused women, characterised by Gothic romanticism, evoke 'the ghastliness of the countenance' found in vampiric victims. (8) In the second half of the nineteenth century transfusions were becoming popular again, but were generally unsuccessful because of the lack of sterilisation procedures, knowledge of blood groups, and blood clotting in needles and tubes. (9) Until the 1880s, these medical practitioners were usually obstetricians 'who transfused the blood of "strong" male donors into depleted females.' (10) From Blundell's view of the reanimating capacity of blood, to the mid-century view of blood's nutritive quality, we finally arrive at the late 1880s medicalisation of blood. No longer a 'privileged substance, but instead an analyzable fluid, blood could be replaced by saline and other solutions.' (11) The saline infusion's triumph over blood was celebrated in the 1894 edition of The Lancet. (12) By 1906, however, blood transfusion would return with the work of George Washington Crile, whose research in 1898 would reveal that saline solutions and blood were not exchangeable. (13) In 1901 Karl Landsteiner would discover the abo blood grouping and agglutination reactions, which would win him the Nobel Prize years later in 1930. It was in the early twentieth century with George W. Crile's successful surgical transfusions, and later Alexis Carrel's experiments, that blood transfusion would become a 'dramatic spectacle' with several 'vivid reports of the dramatic and colorful story of moving blood between bodies' in American newspapers. (14) As Douglas Starr notes, by the end of the 1910s 'surgeons were performing some twenty transfusions a year at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York alone--with Crile's and other, related techniques--and charging a handsome $500 fee.' (15)

While blood transfusions became a profitable business, blood remained associated with symbolic meanings. Newspapers that documented blood transfusion stories stressed the power of kinship when families and relatives donated blood, or celebrated the concept of sacrifice as celebrities and ordinary people offered their vital fluids to save the lives of strangers. (16) In the public imagination the idea of transfusing blood between bodies emphasised blood as a gift creating community. But as a carrier of one's vitality and identity, blood also drew attention to the danger of changing one's sense of selfhood with the blood of another.

In Mary Braddon's short story 'Good Lady Ducayne' (1896), as well as in Stoker's Dracula, science attempts to bring the supernatural under its control by equating vampirism and blood transfusion. However, by trying to explain vampirism through scientific advancements, such as blood transfusions, science becomes supernatural, while vampirism is rationalised. In his reading of 'Good Lady Ducayne' Fred Botting observes that 'With its capacity to penetrate and alter living bodies, science receives Gothic treatment.'17 The narrative, however, not only Gothicises blood transfusions, but draws attention to the reality of the transfusions themselves, and the conditions within which they are performed, the subjects involved, their motives, as well as nineteenth-century discourse on blood and transfusions. The narrative raises anxieties about the unethical use of blood transfusions by physicians, and the dangers for the donors' life. When the doctor--Bella's friend, Herbert Stafford--discovers the scars on Bella's arms, he reproaches her for permitting
   '... that wretched Italian quack to bleed you. They killed the
   greatest man in modern Europe that way, remember. How very foolish
   of you.' (18)

While blood transfusions are presented as dangerous, they also demonstrate the obsession and concerns about health and medical treatment characteristic of upper-class Victorians, as well as the Victorian obsession with fluids. (19)

Lady Ducayne's donors are poor girls who are willing to work as companions, but they are unaware that their blood is siphoned off by the old lady's physician. The young girls' deaths as a consequence of these blood transfusions are interpreted as 'young lives that have been sacrificed' to Lady Ducayne's 'love of life' (196). Dr Parravicini's attempts to prolong the old woman's life through 'experimental surgery' (196) are not free. Lady Ducayne reminds him that 'I have paid you thousands to keep me alive. Every year of my life has swollen your hoards' (196). Science is presented at the service of capital, while blood, and the bodies and lives it signifies, is sacrificed and exchanged for money to feed the wild dreams of an 'old female Croesus' (187). In this vein it can be argued that 'Good Lady Ducayne' is exemplary of the ways blood and transfusions were beginning to enter a financial arena, and it prefigures the unethical and unequal exchanges present in biomedical practices today.

In the Victorian era blood remained metaphorical and symbolic; it was invested with the individual's temperament and race, while its social life remained bound to the older notions of blood ties and blood lines. As Jules Law points out, 'in the absence of any reliable or sustained technology for exchanging blood, discourses about its social itinerary were bound to be largely metaphorical and symbolic'. (20) However, in the narrative, blood is placed between this older metaphorical meaning and a new scientific one, through the performance of blood transfusions.

This short story reflects nineteenth-century ideas of the relation between the life of fluids inside and outside the body. Jules Law notes that, in the Victorian period, there emerged an 'intensification of the opposition between the science of fluids out of the body and the fetishization of fluids within. As fluids out of the body are subjected to progressively greater rationalization, analysis, and manipulation, bodily fluids become increasingly the emblem and the vehicle of that which is inalienable, irrational, and individual.' (21) Such ideas are developed by George Henry Lewes in The Physiology of Common Life ([1859], 1860), where he considers the blood within the body as a dynamic fluid which carries the individual's temperament, and the blood in scientific experiments as a neutral medium. (22) Blood, as a neutral medium then, has no power, and does not carry the individual's character. It functions only as a mechanism to sustain the role of the organs it connects. Thus, for Lewes, blood transfusions cannot alter the personality of the recipient, are useless for curing any disease, and should only be employed in cases of dangerous blood loss (225). As he explains, the ancients were wrong to believe 'that by infusing new blood into an old and failing organism, new life would be infused; and wild dreams of a sort of temporal immortality were entertained' (225).

These misconceptions are reproduced by Lady Ducayne's insistence in transfusing blood from young girls. She inquires whether Bella has 'good health', whether she is 'strong and active, able to eat well, sleep well, walk well, able to enjoy all that there is good in life' (182-3). Bella's youth and vitality, evident in her 'fresh complexion' and 'rosy color' (190), are qualities contained in her blood and thus, she becomes a producer of commodified 'healthy' blood in a vain system of exchange. By the end of the narrative, Lady Ducayne realises that the transfusions of blood are unsuccessful and useless, and blood is nothing more than a neutral fluid with no inherent power.

On the other hand, in Stoker's Dracula, Van Helsing's blood transfusions are not only equated with vampirism but are also used to counteract the vampire bite. They inject the narrative with various symbolic meanings and anxieties about the transgressive nature of the circulation of blood between bodies. At the same time, their use is also criticised intermittently. Blood transfusions at the end of the nineteenth century remained experimental and very often resulted in casualties. They were a 'ghastly operation', as Dr Seward observes, which was painful for the donors and patients. (23) In Dracula, after the fourth transfusion,
   Lucy had got a terrible shock, and it told on her more than before,
   for though plenty of blood went into her veins, her body did not
   respond to the treatment as well as on the other occasions. (160)

However, Dr Seward's empirical observations are overshadowed by symbolic explanations of blood, and the use of folkloric elements such as garlic that substitute for the lack of scientific knowledge.

The four transfusions that take place in Dracula are the gifts of blood to Lucy from Arthur Holmwood, John Seward, Van Helsing and Quincey Morris. According to Van Helsing, the blood is chosen from strong and healthy men and not from women, as he fears 'to trust those women, even if they would have courage to submit' (159). In addition, after the last transfusion, Morris fears Lucy's fragility, since she 'has had put into her veins ... the blood of four strong men. Man alive, her whole body wouldn't hold it' (163). The blood that is chosen for transfusion is gendered, since male blood is preferred for its vigour and power. Nevertheless, masculine and 'muscular' blood, embodying the essence of man himself, can be too powerful for the 'weak' female body. Dracula remains focused on blood's vitalistic and reanimating capacities that resonate, as Pelis shows, with Blundell's ideas. (24) Specifically, Van Helsing chooses Arthur as the first brave man; unlike Van Helsing and Seward, he does not 'toil much in the world of thought. Our nerves are not so calm and our blood not so bright than yours!' (132). His blood then reflects social notions of a masculinity and identity, gendered with a healthy, strong male body and calm mind.

As with Lady Ducayne, so with Lucy: blood transfusions fail to inject life into the waning female body. However, in Dracula the representation of transfusions demonstrates a sceptical attitude towards science, which is not found in 'Good Lady Ducayne'. Yet, blood remains a potent symbol of vitality and this symbolic quality is manifested in the fleeting change in Lucy's health following the transfusion: 'Her spirits even were good, and she was full of a happy vivacity' (135), and there was a 'return of colour to the ashy cheeks' (145).

The three subsequent transfusions retain metaphorical meanings and introduce the element of sexual penetration. Blood is interpreted as a symbol of ties and family bonds, but it also becomes a substitute for semen. (25) For Van Helsing, 'No man knows till he experiences it, what it is to feel his own life-blood drawn away into the veins of the woman he loves' (138), and, making the sexual implications of the act even clearer: 'Said he not that the transfusion of his blood to her veins had made her truly his bride?' (187). Seward's second transfusion is to be kept a secret from Lucy's fiance because it will 'frighten him and enjealous him' (139). Seward is not permitted to offer as much blood as Arthur, because he is not 'her lover, her fiance' (138). Lucy, the 'sweet maid', is described finally, as a 'poly-andrist', and Van Helsing becomes a 'bigamist' by offering his own blood to Lucy. While his wife is dead to him, he remains wedded to her through the Church's law (187), and the transfusion of blood marks a second union, a communion equated to a wedding and sexual penetration. For Christopher Craft, the transfusions are 'displaced marital (and martial) penetrations' and reassert 'the conventionally masculine prerogative of penetration.' (26) Despite the presence of science, blood in Dracula remains a vitalistic and fetishised fluid. Such a fetishization of, and preoccupation with, blood is not, however, as William Hughes demonstrates, the result of postmodern psychoanalytic readings, but a characteristic of the Victorians' obsession with fluids, evident in Jules Law's analysis in The Social Life of Fluids: Blood, Milk, and Water in the Victorian Novel (2010). Paraphrasing David Punter, Hughes argues that 'At the heart of Dracula criticism, as it were, is blood--blood overdetermined as a psychoanalytical substitute for semen'. (27) While Ernest Jones drew attention to semen as a symbolic substitute for blood in On the Nightmare (1931), medieval medical texts were also concerned with the physiological quality of semen, and considered it as a 'purified form of blood'. (28) The 'haematic theory' which held that semen is a rare faction of blood, was a 'traditional' but 'officially repudiated view' in the nineteenth century. (29) Such ideas, deriving from Hippocrates were, as Michael Mason points out in The Making of Victorian Sexuality (1994),
   standard in nineteenth-century quack and vulgar medical writing
   right through to the 1880s (and was sometimes expressly said to be
   an instance of ancient medicine being more accurate than modern),
   while it does not seem to have appeared in the mainstream
   professional literature after the late 1820s. (209)

Works of instruction and advice intended for the lay readers supported the hae-matic theory which, in 1841, also featured in the Lancet (209).

In Tod Browning's 1931 film adaptation, Dracula, medical science and its technologies are relegated to mere symbols of authority and reason. Blood transfusions, and tools to analyse blood, lend authority to Professor Van Helsing. The blood transfusion is staged in an anatomical theatre in front of medical students and scientists, all dressed in white uniforms and masks. The act of transfusion does not take place on screen, and the focus falls on the two bite marks on Lucy's neck. In this sequence, the mise-en-scene becomes the embodiment of science. Through the presence of medical paraphernalia, the white uniforms, the anatomical theatre, the sterilised and careful movements of Van Helsing, and the description of his findings through his strict and clinical voice, science is brought to life. But while science frames the scene and sets the atmosphere, the description of the bite marks, as well as the 'unnatural loss of blood' from Lucy's body, infiltrate the scene to produce a mysterious effect. (30)

In another sequence, where Renfield's blood is analysed by Van Helsing in the company of Dr Seward and other men, the focus falls on Van Helsing the scientist and his use of scientific instruments to analyse blood. Van Helsing, dressed in a medical uniform, is shown to be an authority on blood, separated from the other characters, who are casually dressed and sitting around his desk. His analysis is justified by a short excerpt read from a Latin medical text, and he finally utters: 'Gentlemen, we are dealing with the undead'. He proceeds immediately to explain that 'the vampire attacks the throat. It leaves two little wounds'. From the blood analysis he can conclude that Renfield is obsessed 'with the idea that he must devour living things in order to sustain his own life'. While Dr Seward replies that 'modern medical science does not admit of such a creature', and the 'vampire is pure myth, superstition', Van Helsing confidently reassures him that 'the superstition of yesterday can become the scientific reality of today.' (31) Van Helsing's anachronistic and supernatural explanations serve to marginalise his own scientific discourse and practices. The use of a Latin medical text and other scientific tools are merely props to sustain Van Helsing's authority, and have no other function in the film. In this vein, the spectre of science perversely lends gravitas and reason to superstition. Medical science and its technologies might frame these two scenes, but supernatural discourse defines them.

While, as I have discussed, the supernatural often dominates science and its technologies, Erle C. Kenton's Universal horror film House of Dracula (1945) presents a different relation between the two. House of Dracula closes an era of Universal films featuring Gothic monsters, and is specifically significant, since after 1945, science fiction becomes the dominant form of horror films, characterised by scientific monstrosities and Cold-War paranoiac scenarios. The film's characteristic place between Gothic and science fiction horror is also reflected in the treatment of its themes. The use of blood transfusion literally stages the exchange between the supernatural forces of a primitive past and the technologies of science. Dracula visits Dr Edelmann to help him treat his condition. In the laboratory blood tests show the existence of a peculiar parasite in Dracula's blood cells that leads Dr Edelmann to perform a series of procedures, in which the 'pure culture of a parasite when introduced into the parent bloodstream will destroy not only its own kind but themselves as well.' (32) Unlike the previously discussed films and texts, this film relies on, and uses, scientific knowledge and practice without recourse to occult or primitive beliefs about blood. During the blood transfusions, both the supernatural body of the vampire and the natural body of the scientist are treated in the laboratory in a similar way, and they both receive and exchange vampire and human blood. While Stacey Abbott argues that 'the supernatural and the fantastic win out in the end as Dracula's blood proves more powerful than Edelmann's cure', the film seems to suggest something different. (33) Science is not subordinated to the Gothic, supernatural mysteries of vampirism. Rather, in an interesting inversion, Dracula, instead of contaminating the scientist with his vampiric bite, actually transfuses his vampiric blood to Dr Edelmann, thus using science instead of any supernatural ability. Nevertheless, after his contamination, the scientist succeeds in killing the vampire, not with technology, but with folklore, since he lets sunlight burn Dracula in his coffin. In this vein, neither the supernatural forces nor scientific practices dominate the other: both are utilised and successful.

Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark (1987) celebrates the complete triumph of science over the supernatural through the use of blood transfusions that cure vampirism. Caleb's father, a veterinarian, manages to save his son from vampirism by simply transfusing his own human blood to his vampire child. Caleb's cured blood is then transfused into the female vampire Mae who is also cured and introduced to her new human family as a substitute for the absent mother. While Caleb's initiation into the vampiric family is marked with the vampire kiss, his return to the human family is facilitated by the patriarch's transfusion of blood that reverses the vampire condition. For both humans and vampires, blood is a carrier of identity, and the exchange of blood signals entrance to a family.

Throughout the film blood is symbolically charged and its meaning changes according to its use by vampires or humans. The different meanings of blood set out the oppositions between humanity and monstrosity, between evil and good and between scientific modernity and vampiric parasitism. While Caleb's father transfuses his healthy, life-giving blood to cure his son and restore his humanity, the vampires' blood drinking is a transgressive act, sexually appealing and highly addictive that transforms healthy humans into sick vampires. Traversing the south-western landscapes of Oklahoma, Arizona and Los Angeles, the vampires roam nocturnal highways for their nourishment. Blood drinking is juxtaposed to oil-drilling, and vampires are imagined as parasites sucking the life-blood of good Americans.

Vampires are defined in terms of a threatening darkness instilled within American whiteness. As nocturnal creatures, they are associated with the night, the kill, and the demonic darkness hiding underneath the safety of American domesticity. Like capitalism's nocturnal bloodsucking with its oil derricks rhythmically penetrating the earth, so the vampire's blood drinking is invisible, hidden in the darkness, in seedy motels and dark southern arteries. Reduced to blood-drinking and animalistic behaviour, these American outcasts litter the landscapes of Reagan's America. They are the lifeless remnants of a past humanity excluded from mainstream society and reduced to poverty and a state of undeath. They are condemned to repeat murderous acts of blood consumption and roam the highways, homeless and adrift. As Christopher Sharrett notes, their threat is that of the 'lumpenized masses of post-industrial civilization to middle [class] America'. (34)

Unlike these vampire outcasts, Caleb can 'go home, be a good boy.' (35) In the era of voodoo economics, Near Dark's blood transfusions are a family affair and a private enterprise not corrupted by the blood of others. While the blood of the father cures the vampire son, the rest of the vampires are destroyed or killed. Blood transfusion saves the lives of those few good traditional Americans, but the collective of hungry, disadvantaged vampires have no access to cure. This conservatism expresses the policies of Reagan's administration and the convergence of biomedicine and political economy. With Reagan's privatization of biomedicine and health care, the number of homeless people in 1987 was estimated to be two million, while by 1988 thirty-seven million people were without life insurance. (36) Given the fact that, as Nixon points out, a year before the film was released John Doolittle 'sponsored a Senate bill that "legalized the creation of designated-donor pools to keep donated blood within families so as to prevent transmission"', the film celebrates autonomy and responsibility instead of altruism and collective participation. (37) Indeed, Nixon argues that in Near Dark the truly evil in Reaganite America is not vampire individualism, so aptly characteristic of 1980s American capitalist hero, but 'a demonized collective' and 'a sort of evil trade union'. (38) And Anna Powell finds that
   Near Dark's conventional romantic ending with Mae's rejection of
   vampirism after her 'family' has been destroyed, and her potential
   to be a nice little wife for Caleb, lacks conviction, and forms a
   pale afterthought to the visceral traumas of the burning vampires.

Within the context of Reaganesque neoliberalism's respect for tradition, selfish individualism and responsibility, evil is indeed defined by its opposite: a diseased collective of amoral, unconventional, and sexually aggressive vampire transgressors that remain hidden at the margins of society.

Unlike previous texts where science represents modernity, or blood transfusions are a 'ghastly operation', in Near Dark science appears naturalised and unmodern as the transfusions take place in a barn. On the one hand, blood transfusions eliminate sickness and vampirism. On the other hand, scientific knowledge about blood and references to the aids epidemic are completely absent. The film remains conservative in its celebration of traditional blood ties, and anything that might spoil the Hollywood consumer's enjoyment, or 'infect its box-office offerings' is silenced. (40) Science is dissociated from the cool clinical environment of laboratories and operating theatres, and presented within the traditional natural warmth and security of the home and farm. The familial space of the barn and the power of the father's blood to reinscribe a paternal order emphasise family ties and human agency to cure vampirism. This is also in agreement with Reaganomics' focus on the normality of the family, individual choice and responsibility. But Reagan's policies fail to acknowledge that this kind of normality--the ploughed fields of the Oklahoma farm, the close unit of the family, access to medical technologies, and the father's sanguine influence--is not a common, but a privileged and idealised American experience. Within this context, the use of blood transfusion reflects the cultural ether of Reagan's neoliberal strategies that lay emphasis on personal knowledge and responsibility for one's health, while occluding socio-cultural tensions. Like the oil derricks that suck the blood of the earth and promise economic growth, so does blood transfusion promise life, growth, and progress. Under neoliberal politics, growth, whether economic or biological, is the promise of the future. The dark face of this, the abnormal growth of vampirism and sickness, is negated as it vanishes aflame in the horizon.

While the nineteenth-century vampire texts 'Good Lady Ducayne' and Dracula, as well as Tod Browning's 1931 Dracula present and play with supernatural and symbolic meanings of blood, House of Dracula departs significantly from supernatural explanations of blood. Its use of medical and technological instruments and scientific language define blood as a neutral medium to be analysed and explained. Even when the scientist is unable to classify the strange parasite in Dracula's blood, the film does not regress to supernatural explanations, but introduces the idea of antibodies to fight the vampire parasite through blood transfusions. While in its denouement 'Good Lady Ducayne' treats blood as a neutral, non-occult fluid, such a realisation occurs only after the misuse of blood transfusions, and the misconception that 'pure' blood from young females will transfuse new life and vitality in her body. Unlike 'Good Lady Ducayne', Dracula and Tod Browning's Dracula, in which blood is transfused into vain or helpless women, House of Dracula stages the exchange of blood between men, both acting as recipients and donors. Whereas the body of the vampire retains its supernatural powers, blood enters the laboratory to be treated rationally and scientifically. Finally, in the late twentieth century blood is not merely the symbol of family ties but also the space of biomedical interventions. Near Dark shows the power of science and family to cure vampirism permanently. Near Dark celebrates the re-establishment of paternal authority and demonstrates how the father's calculated use of biomedical procedures can manage difference through technologies of control by regulating the vampire blood. In this respect, not only, as Nina Auerbach shows, 'Bigelow's paternalistic happy ending is the end of enlightenment', but also the beginning of modern neoliberalism's focus on the life sciences, choice and self-actualisation, as individuals become increasingly responsible for their own wellbeing. (41)


(1) K. C. Hanson, 'Blood and Purity in Leviticus and Revelation', Listening: Journal of Religion and Culture, 28 (1993), 215-30, at p. 215.

(2) Michel Foucault, 'The Politics of Health in the Eighteenth Century', in James D. Faubion (ed.), Power: Essential Works of Foucault, 1957-1984, (London: Penguin, 2002), Vol. 3, pp. 90-105; Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol.1: The Will to Knowledge, trans. Robert Hurley (London: Penguin, 1998), pp. 142-7.

(3) John J. Jordan, 'Vampire Cyborgs and Scientific Imperialism: A Reading of the Science-Mysticism Polemic in Blade', Journal of Popular Film and Television, 27/2 (1999), 4-15, at p. 9.

(4) Harvey J. Klein and David J. Anstee, Mollison's Blood Transfusion in Clinical Medicine (Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), p. 19.

(5) Nicholas J. Vardaxis, Immunology for the Health Sciences (South Melbourne: Macmillan, 1995), p. 80.

(6) Douglas Starr, Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce (London: Little Brown, and Company, 1998), p. 35.

(7) Starr, Blood, p. 36.

(8) Blundell, quoted. in Kim Pelis, 'Transfusion with Teeth', in James M. Bradburne, (ed.), Blood: Art, Power, Politics, and Pathology (Munich: Prestel, 2002), pp. 175-91, at p. 186.

(9) Starr, Blood, p. 37.

(10) Kim Pelis, 'Blood Clots: The Nineteenth-Century Debate over the Substance and Means of Transfusion in Britain', Annals of Science Fiction, 54 (1997), 331-60, at p. 332.

(11) Pelis, 'Blood Clots', p. 332.

(12) Pelis, 'Blood Clots', p. 357.

(13) Pelis, 'Blood Clots', p. 360.

(14) Susan E. Lederer, Flesh and Blood: Organ Transplantation and Blood Transfusion in Twentieth-Century America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 51, 52.

(15) Starr, Blood, p. 40.

(16) Lederer, Flesh and Blood, p. 52.

(17) Fred Botting, '"Monsters of the Imagination": Gothic, Science, Fiction', in David Seed (ed.), A Companion to Science Fiction (Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), pp. 111-26, at p. 116.

(18) Mary Elizabeth Braddon, 'Good Lady Ducayne', [1896], ed. David J. Skal in Vampires: Encounters with the Undead (New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2006), pp. 179-99 at p. 194. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in parentheses in the body of the text.

(19) As Mary Wilson Carpenter writes, 'more upper-class Victorians were almost obsessed with their own health. They complained of dyspepsia (indigestion), sleeplessness, headaches, melancholy, and many other symptoms that their doctors typically found very hard to cure.' Mary Wilson Carpenter, Health, Medicine and Society in Victorian England (Santa Barbara, California: Praeger, 2010), p. 23. See also Jules Law's The Social Life of Fluids: Blood, Milk, and Water in the Victorian Novel (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2010).

(20) Law, The Social Life of Fluids, p. 5.

(21) Law, The Social Life of Fluids, p. 4.

(22) George Henry Lewes, The Physiology of Common Life, Vol.1, [1859] (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1860). All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in parentheses in the body of the text. Lewes (1817-1878) was a British philosopher and critic. In The Physiology of Common Life, Vol. 1 he refers to the work of Virchow. Lady Ducayne's awareness of Rudolf Virchow's work points out that the author as possibly acquainted with other medical analyses such as Lewes' analysis of blood, but also with scientific developments in general, especially Virchow's research on cellular pathology and epidemic disease.

(23) Bram Stoker, Dracula, [1897] (London: Penguin, 1993), p. 160. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in parentheses in the body of the text.

(24) Pelis, 'Blood Clots', p. 359.

(25) The sexual associations with blood transfusions have been discussed and analysed in depth in Glennis Byron's collection, Dracula (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999). In this volume, see Christopher Craft's essay, '"Kiss me with Those Red Lips": Gender and Inversion in Bram Stoker's Dracula' (93-118); Phyllis A. Roth 'Suddenly Sexual Women in Bram Stoker's Dracula' (30-42), and Rebecca E. Pope's 'Writing and Biting in Dracula' (68-92). See, also, Ernest Jones, On the Nightmare (New York: Liveright, 1931).

(26) Craft, '"Kiss me with Those Red Lips"', pp. 105, 106.

(27) William Hughes, 'On the Sanguine Nature of Life: Blood, Identity, and the Vampire', in John S. Bak (ed.), Postmodern Dracula: From Victorian Themes to Postmodern Praxis (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), pp. 3-12, at p. 4.

(28) Peggy McCracken, The Curse of Eve, The Wound of the Hero: Blood, Gender, and Medieval Literature (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), p. 56.

(29) Michael Mason, The Making of Victorian Sexuality (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 208. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in parentheses in the body of the text.

(30) Tod Browning, dir., Dracula (Universal Pictures, 1931).

(31) Stacey Abbott explains that in this scene 'science is presented to be as Gothic and ritualized as vampire folklore and religious mysticism'. It is transformed into a religious practice through the reading of a Latin text and thus becomes the 'religion of the modern man.' Stacey Abbott, Celluloid Vampires: Life after Death in the Modern World (Austin Texas: The University of Texas Press, 2007), p. 65.

(32) Erle C. Kenton, dir., House of Dracula (Universal Pictures, 1945).

(33) Stacey Abbot, Celluloid Vampires, p. 68.

(34) Christopher Sharrett, 'The Horror Film in Neoconservative Culture', The Journal of Popular Film and Television, 21/3 (1993), 100-10, at p. 104.

(35) Kathryn Bigelow, dir., Near Dark (F/M, 1987).

(36) Alex Houen, Powers of Possibility: Experimental American Writing since the 1960s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 167.

(37) Nicola Nixon, 'When Hollywood Sucks, or, Hungry Girls, Lost Boys, and Vampirism in the Age of Reagan', in Joan Gordon and Veronica Hollinger (eds), Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997), pp. 115-28, at p. 126.

(38) Nixon, 'When Hollywood Sucks', p. 121.

(39) Anna Powell, 'Blood on the Borders - Near Dark and Blue Steel', Screen, 35/2 (1994), 136-53, at p. 138.

(40) Nixon, 'When Hollywood Sucks', p. 128.

(41) Nina Auerbach, Our Vampires, Ourselves (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1995), p. 192.

Notes on Contributor

Dr Aspasia Stephanou has published articles and chapters on vampirism and consumption (in Callaloo, forthcoming); Edgar Allan Poe, tuberculosis and female vampires (in The Edgar Allan Poe Review, Spring 2013); vampire communities and globalization (in GlobalGothic, 2013); on the vampire and empire (with Glennis Byron, in Transnational and Postcolonial Vampires: Dark Blood, 2012); on black metal theory (Glossator, 2012); and on blood and performance art (Journal for Cultural Research, 2011). She is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of the Gothic (2012) and the co-editor of Transgression and Its Limits (2012). Her book on Blood and the Vampire Gothic will be published later this year (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Her interests include Gothic and contemporary horror, cultural and critical theory, and European Avant-Garde.

Address for Correspondence

Aspasia Stephanou, School of Arts and Humanities, Division of Literature and Languages, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA, Scotland, UK. Email: aspasia.stephanou@stir.

Aspasia Stephanou

University of Stirling
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Author:Stephanou, Aspasia
Publication:Gothic Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2013
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