Friday, 24 October 2014

Britain's Midnight Hour

BBC joins the British Library in celebrating 250 years of gothic in the arts. For more information see this overview. I am personally particularly interested to see Andrew Graham-Dixon's take on The Art of Gothic, cf. the youtube video below. If you are interested in the subject, I highly recommend his series on The Art of Germany, which is available on DVD if you don't happen to catch a re-run on BBC World or elsewhere.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Habsburg maps of Kisolova and Frey Hermersdorf online

Thanks to an international co-operation between a number of archives, including the Austrian State Archives, historical maps of the Habsburg Empire are now available in both 2D and 3D as layers on top of current Google Earth maps. The maps are searchable, so you can seek out a number of places that are e.g. relevant to the history of vampires and posthumous magic, including those shown below: Kisolova, the site of the first 'vampire case' concerning a certain Peter Plogojowitz, and Frey Hermersdorf, the site of an instance of magia posthuma that was investigated by the court physicians Johannes Gasser and Christian Wabst, described and analyzed by Gerard van Swieten, before prompting Empress Maria Theresa's decree concerning magia posthuma and other superstitions.

Historical Maps of the Habsburg Empire is an excellent resource worth investigating.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Styrian settings

Styrian Schloss Hainfeld from German Wikipedia
’Vampire stories are generally set in Styria,’ wrote Eric, Count Stenbock in 1894 in A True Story of A Vampire, adding that ’Styria is by no means the romantic kind of place described by those who have certainly never been there. It is a flat, uninteresting country, only celebrated by its turkeys, its capons, and the stupidity of its inhabitants.’ Only a couple of decades later, Romuald Pramberger wrote of the revenant beliefs of Styria, but noted that the vampire as it is now from Slavic areas is alien to Styria.

A new book published in connection with the current exhibition Carmilla, der Vampir und wir at the GrazMuseum in Styria, explores how Styria became the location of fictional vampire tales, as well as the general evolution of the vampire from the early Eighteenth Century to the mass media of our day.

Hans-Peter Weingand discusses some of the sources for Carmilla that must have inspired Sheridan Le Fanu in setting his vampire tale only about 50 km from Graz, while Elizabeth Miller explores the Stoker connection, as Count Dracula (or was that Count Wampyr?) originally was meant to live in Styria. Peter Mario Kreuter writes about the vampire investigations of the Eighteenth Century and vampire beliefs, while Clemens Ruthner lines out the development of the vampire theme. Most contributions are in German, but three are actually in English.

Overall, a nice read about Le Fanu, vampires and Styria, with notes and bibliography for further reading. Included is also a set of photos from the exhibition, serving as either a souvenir from the exhibition or a substitute for traveling to Graz.

The contents are:

Annette Rainer, Christina Töpfer, Martina Zerovnik: Grenzerfahrung, Vampirismus
Brian J. Showers: The Life and Literature of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Hans-Peter Weingand: Den leisen Schritt Carmillas … Wie die Vampire in die Steiermark kamen
Elizabeth Miller: From Styria to Transylvania
Peter Mario Kreuter: Vampirglaube in Südosteuropa einst und jetzt
Clemens Ruthner: Untot mit Biss: Kurze Kultur- und Erfolgsgeschichte des Vampirismus in unseren Breiten
Theresia Heimerl: Unsterblich und (un)moralisch? Der Vampir als Repräsentationsfigur von Wert- und Normierungsdiskursen
Laurence A. Rickels: Integration of the Vampire
Sabine Planka: Der Vampir in der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur
Martina Zerovnik: Zwischen Vampir und Vamp: Auf der Suche nach der ”Neuen Frau” in Carmilla, Dracula, Twilight & Co

Carmilla, der Vampir und Wir is published by Passagen Verlag in Vienna and is available from GrazMuseum, the publishers, and Amazon.

A collection of books exhibited at the GrazMuseum.
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