Perkowski’s Method

img006I’ve been reacquainting myself with one of my all-time favourite vampire books, Jan L. Perkowski’s The Darkling: A Treatise on Slavic Vampirism (1989)—more specifically, its “Slavic Testimony” chapter, which Rob Brautigam says “by itself is well worth the price of the book” (2012).

I am particularly fascinated by Perkowski’s methodology for examining vampire cases. “Any significant comparison of these source materials,” he wrote, “must be predicated upon an appropriate system of componential analysis” (1989, 75). His system is split into ten categories: information source, country and region, name (the regional name given to the vampire), origin (how the vampire came to be), detection, attributes, activity patterns, precautions, cures and social/psychological role (Perkowski 1989, 75–78).

Perkowski first showcased this methodology in Vampires of the Slavs‘ chapter, “A Recent Vampire Death” (1976, 156–9). The outline encapsulates what Joe Nickell believes vampirology should involve:

if we are to seriously add the root –ology to vampire, the presumably scholarly field thus described must represent more than credulity and fantasy. There is a serious field of study—embracing folklore, psychology, cultural anthropology, literature, history, and so on—that attempts to research and make sense of the various aspects of the vampire myth. To that study the term vampirology may well be applied (2011, 125).

In fact, last night, it occurred to me that the methodology would be the perfect fit for a guest post I’ve been meaning to write for Kyle Germann’s The Demon Hunter’s Compendium blog. So, stay tuned for that.


Brautigam, Rob. 2012. “Books in English.” WWW.SHROUDEATER.COM. Last updated May 2012. Accessed November 20, 2013.

Nickell, Joe. 2011. Tracking the Man-Beasts: Sasquatch, Vampires, Zombies, and More. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Perkowski, Jan L. 1989. The Darkling: A Treatise on Slavic Vampirism. Columbus, OH: Slavica.

———. 1976. Vampires of the Slavs. Cambridge, MA: Slavica.


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