Think bloodsucking is hot? Ever have your blood sucked?

Philosophy professor Stephen Amsa writes this in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Any careful reading of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for example, will reveal not only a highly sexualized description of blood drinking, but an erotic characterization of the count himself.”

What he means to say, I think, is that a Freud-besotted modern reading confirms the Freudian orthodoxy about Dracula. But to paraphrase Freud, sometimes a moan is just a moan. A truly careful reading, on the other hand, which is attentive to the meanings of words in 1897 and to the overall tone, themes, and symbolism in the book, will not leave one with the feeling that Count Dracula is in any way erotic.

I don’t know why this is such a big deal with me. Maybe because I don’t like it when academics all agree that something is obvious. Or maybe because there’s something vaguely misogynistic about reading what Dracula does to his female victims as seduction. Or maybe because I’m just contrary, and think Freud was creepy and a borderline pervert, and think we ought not import psycho-babble into texts. Regardless, I stand by my belief that the only good vampire is a dead vampire.


  1. susan Smith

    Sometimes, I think we’re just under pressure to make literature conform to a very limited number of theoretical constructs. That’s the construct that fits the best, so that’s what is used. But it is frustrating to have to have to put artificial limits like that on your work. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is, though. You don’t publish otherwise. Sucks, but true.

  2. Scott

    Academics fall into the same trap we all do from time to time: If the only tool you have is a (Freudian or Post-Modernist or Feminist or whatever) hammer, everything looks like a nail. This is magnified, of course, if you’re desperately seeking tenure in the prestigious Department of Hammer Studies.

  3. RockThrowingPeasant

    I agree. My degree was in Lit Criticism and it was interesting to see how the faculty seemed to constantly question what the basis of a critique was (Feminist, Marxist, Deconstructionist, Post-Modern, etc). I never found any of them appealing enough to commit to, but there was geniune pressure to settle on one, if you had visions of graduate school.

    I got a job and got married, instead.

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