College Honors Program

Date of Creation


Document Type




First Advisor

Debra Gettelman


Authors of vampire fiction often grapple with the shifting gender norms of the late nineteenth century. They explore these shifting tensions through the creation of complex narrative structures, some of which incorporate female narrators. By making these women narrators, these authors carefully consider female perspectives and the authority women can wield, both as narrators in their respective texts, and as women in late nineteenth-century British society who were confined to rigid gender roles. The narrative tension that arises between the narrator and the text then allows these authors to use literature to explore and theorize about broader societal tensions.

This thesis examines Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s novella Carmilla (1872), Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula (1897), F.W. Murnau’s film Nosferatu (1922), and Werner Herzog’s remake Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979). These texts and films explore the female perspective, granting these women authority or denying them a voice to challenge the gender norms to which women were confined. While the women of vampire fiction have often been analyzed to determine what Gothic roles they conform to, much less attention has been paid to the role these women play as the writers and editors of their own stories. When these narrative roles are taken into consideration, we can better understand these complex women and the roles they play.


This thesis was submitted and accepted for both the College Honors and English Honors programs of the College of the Holy Cross.

Presented at the 2017 Academic Conference.