Ejournal databases are a goldmine for academic research. Unfortunately, not many are free to use—unless you’re a library member. For instance, as a member of the State Library of Victoria and National Library of Australia, I’m able to access a vast treasure trove of articles. For free. Check your own libraries, whether public, state, national or academic, to see what’s available to you.
Outside of libraries, you might come across open access journal databases. Anyone can download articles (and theses) from those. Well, most of them. In fact, I came across one two nights ago: Iowa Research Online (IRO) the University of Iowa’s institutional repository. Much of the content is available via Digital Commons, an open access resource.
I’ve been mining my way through IRO (there is a lot to get through) and come across several interesting items including a discussion on the “natural history” of vampires, an article on the way Twilight undermines feminism, a thesis on the vampire’s connection to Christianity and an early piece by Erik Butler, author of Metamorphoses of the Vampire in Literature and Film: Cultural Transformations in Europe, 1732-1933 (2010) and The Rise of the Vampire (2013).
But the item I’ve found most intriguing, so far, is a listing for a senior independent study thesis by Mary B. Little called “Blood, Ghouls, Graves, and Garlic the Vampire in History and His Place in European, English, and American Literature” (1967). There are few reasons why the thesis interests me.
Firstly, lengthy English language 20th century writings on vampires, pre-1970, are hard to come by. The “boom” followed the publication of popular early 1970s works like Donald F. Glut’s True Vampires of History (1971), Anthony Masters’ The Natural History of the Vampire (1972), Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu’s In Search of Dracula: A True History of Dracula and Vampire Legends (1972), Leonard Wolf’s A Dream of Dracula: In Search of the Living Dead (1972) and Basil Copper’s The Vampire in Legend, Fact and Art (1973).
Second, “Garlic” is mentioned pretty prominently in the title. Sure, it could be a throwaway thing, but could the author have attempted to clarify why it is part of the vampire mythos? Although garlic is a well-known vampire apotropaic, have you ever wondered why it is? The most convincing explanation I’ve read comes from Paul Barber, who suggests garlic’s pungent aroma is used to counteract the vampire’s own stench, pointing out the use of other strong-smelling wards against the undead. Who knows; Little might have come up with something else.
Last, but not least: what did Little have to say about the literature of the time? Does the American component of the thesis’ title cover New England vampire exhumations? Beyond pulps, Dracula adaptations and novels here and there, I can’t see what she’d have much for the history of the vampire in American literature or history. Could be interesting. Maybe she covered some obscure things. Maybe she didn’t. Who knows.
Either way, it’s nice to see an item like that hosted on the repository—and even nicer to see it available to download. Unfortunately, you can’t do that until Thursday, January 01, 2150. That is not a misprint. For some reason, there’s an embargo on the thesis. I was at least able to request access to it, but whether or not that’s granted, we’ll see.
- a discussion on the “natural history” of vampires: Liza Bundasen, “A Natural History of Vampires,” The Lehigh Review 6 (Spring/Fall 1998): 5–16, accessed January 12, 2017, http://preserve.lehigh.edu/cas-lehighreview-vol-6/2.
- an article on the way Twilight undermines feminism: Lauren Rocha, “Bite Me: Twilight Stakes Feminism,” The Undergraduate Review 7 (2010/2011): 148–53, accessed January 13, 2017, http://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol7/iss1/27.
- the vampire’s connection to Christianity: Dorothy I. Wotherspoon, “The Vampire Myth and Christianity,” (master’s thesis, Rollins College, 2010), accessed January 13, 2017, http://scholarship.rollins.edu/mls/16/.
- an early piece by Erik Butler: Butler, “Writing and Vampiric Contagion in Dracula,” Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, no. 2 (Fall 2002): 13–32, accessed January 12, 2017, http://ir.uiowa.edu/ijcs/vol2/iss1/4.
- a senior independent study thesis: Mary B. Little, “Blood, Ghouls, Graves, and Garlic the Vampire in History and His Place in European, English, and American Literature” (master’s thesis, The College of Wooster, 1967), accessed January 13, 2017,
- lengthy English language 20th century writings on vampires, pre-1970: Yes, I’m aware of Dudley Wright’s Vampires and Vampirism (1914; 1924), Montague Summers’ The Vampire, His Kith and Kin (1928) and The Vampire in Europe (1929). You could even count A. Osborne Eaves’ Modern Vampirism: Its Dangers and How to Avoid Them (1904) or R. M. Eberling’s The Vampire in Human Form (1961). What I mean is, that the period’s coverage is somewhat spotty.
- Paul Barber suggests . . . garlic’s pungent aroma is used to counteract the vampire’s own stench: Paul Barber, Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 63–4, 131–2, 157–8.
- there’s an embargo on the thesis: In context with academic publishing, this refers to “a period during which access to academic journals is not allowed to users who have not paid for access (or have access through their institution).” “Embargo (Academic Publishing), Wikipedia, last modified November 29, 2016, accessed January 14, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embargo_(academic_publishing).