Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Michael S. Bowman
Dracula is a significant example of a popular phenomenon with a long and ongoing history of productive circulation in Anglo-American culture. While theorists of popular culture often use the term "performance" in their explanations of the popularity and meaningful operations of such phenomena in a culture, they do not always provide concrete definitions of what they mean by performance. This study provides an analysis of the roles performance plays in a specific popular culture phenomenon. Identifying Bram Stoker's Dracula as a nexus for a broader cultural activity, this study examines articulations of Dracula in performances and texts that both precede and follow Stoker's novel. The analysis focuses on the roles performances play in the circulation and construction of this diffuse popular artifact by examining theatrical adaptations, folkloric performance practices, and the performativity of identity construction. This study uses theater reviews and play scripts to examine various theatrical representations of vampires, tracing performance influences on the cultural production of Dracula and focusing on the central figure's acknowledged "theatricality." Positing a significant similarity between the transmission processes of folklore and audiencing practices associated with mass media, the study traces structures of traditional vampire rituals that influenced Stoker as well as a popular film version of Stoker's novel. Finally, the study provides a performative analysis of the vampire as citational behavior that allowed Victorian authors to signify the vampire in such a way as to police cultural constructions of sexual identity; in contrast, contemporary vampire fans use vampire performatives to resist such dominant constructions of gendered identity. While concerned with the adaptation of literary texts into performances, the study focuses more on how performances influence the production of texts. Viewed across a variety of textual and performance articulations, Dracula emerges as a highly reflexive cultural phenomenon that is both influenced by and meta-communicatively about performance. This study's focus on Dracula provides insights into the ways performance functions in the ephemeral circulation processes of other popular culture phenomena and articulates ways in which the theoretical resources of performance studies can be productively applied to the critical activities of cultural studies.
Gray, Jonathan Matthew, "Performing Dracula: a Critical Examination of a Popular Text in Three Sites of Performance." (1999). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 7042.