Those who study esotericism in North America will will be interested in the upcoming conference of the Association for the Study of Esotericism (ASE). Taking place in June, it’s considered to be the American counterpart to the ESSWE conference, which you no doubt have heard much of here.
I am super-excited from this conference because I will be presenting my first conference paper at the ASE! My research topic will be a bit of a digression from my main squeeze of the ancient world, but it is an interesting one nevertheless. It’s on vampires.
This past semester I took a course on religion and identity in the Balkans. The result was a paper called “The Disenchantment of the Vampire: Balkan Folklore’s Deadly Encounter with Modernity.” In some ways this paper coincided with areas I was already working with: Rhetorical strategies, Orientalism, and occult-y themes. In other ways, it was totally different. Most obviously it was modern and concerned itself with the intersection of Western perceptions of the Balkans and so-called “Modernity.” (I say “so-called Modernity” because this Modernity is a problematic construction that more appropriately describes a specific worldview of a certain portion of society than an all-encompassing evolution of thought.)
In short, I’ll be analysing the cognitive dissonance created by the Balkan vampire on the Western European scientific mindset as “Modernity” emerged. This is depicted here in broad strokes as an interaction between the rational, Modern West and backwards, superstitious East. This weighty topic will be focused through the various representations of the Balkan vampire, and how it changed over time to fit Western prejudices of the Balkan region. I’ll be looking at historical reports of vampirism, literary depictions of vampires, and of course, Dracula.
Velvet suits are optional. Capes are not recommended as this is an academic conference.
I hope to see you there in June!
UPDATE: The full conference schedule can be found here.
Photo by CMPhotography.