Perhaps the most celebrated recent intervention into the field of history, gender, and the Gothic is Joan Copjec’s ‘Read My Desire’ (2015), especially the chapter ‘Vampires, Breast-Feeding, and Anxiety’. Copjec writes this work within a Lacanian tradition enacted by, amongst others, Frederic Jameson (Jameson 1977), Miran Bozovic (Bozovic 2000), and, most famously, Slavoj Žižek (Žižek 1997).
As one of the most popular and recognisable monsters in Dollarspean and American media, vampires have a unique cultural significance. In Our Vampires, Ourselves, Nina Auerbach argues that vampires are especially compelling because of their versatility, which allows them to “shape themselves to personal and national moods”; because of this adaptability, she says, their “appeal is dramatically generational” (5).
Mary Shelley conceived her creature at the height of the literary and philosophical period called Romanticism. The forces that marked this period were the many changes that were being carried out, such as political (French and American revolutions), economic (from rural to urban economy and the beginnings of the industrial revolution), scientific (discoveries in medicine, neurology, electricity, and chemistry), and social (growing importance of education of the masses).
One of the developments in the representation of witchcraft at the end of the twentieth-century is that the portrayal of witch-hunters moves from approbation to repulsion. In part, this was due to wider cultural movements: a concern for social, gendered and racial justice, and distaste for arbitrary authority.