Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Communications and Arts


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Associate Professor Domenico De Ciario

Second Advisor

Doctor Maggi Phillips


The Vampire is a parasitic demon who has ·haunted humanity for thousands of years. Feeding off the living, this bloodsucking, animated corpse could generally be said to embody human fears surrounding death and sexuality. Appearing in a variety of mythologies around the world, the vampire has been connected with excessive and/or repressed desire, the subconscious and dark side of human nature. The vampire and associated metaphors' reflect social boundaries and express forbidden desires, in particular, when the figure appeared in late-Gothic literature of the 18th-century novel. The transitions occurring within the vampire's iconography over the last 200 years of Western history offer us a fascinating mirror through which to examine social change. This thesis presents a brief historic outline of the path sketched out by this imaginary avatar from its departure in folklore and superstition into 18th and 19th-century poetry and literature appearing as a preternatural/over and then finally arriving on the screen as the iconic villain/hero of the 20th century. Focusing on issues of gender, sexuality, capitalism and desire, this thesis draws the, conclusion that the 21st -century vampire is a consumer, lost in an insatiable and disorientating bloodlust of materialist desire. Through exploring the lineage of patriarchal terror and vampiricism endemic within our global consumer consciousness and behaviour, this thesis draws an analogy between the attitudes towards, and surrounding, the woman's body and the body of our Earth, the Mother. It asserts that the ideologies of desire explicit within late-capitalist society expose an erotic libidinal economy, which perceives both women and the Earth as commodity, there to be possessed and consumed. Accompanying this thesis paper is a creative project called .The Gothic Opera: A Symphony in Terror, This hybrid performance incorporated dance, aerial theatre and opera in a collaborative theatre event involving over thirty artists. The Gothic Opera traces a historical route through the shifting poetic metaphors of the vampire over the last two hundred years of western cultural change. The Gothic Opera explores, through the medium of performance, many of the characters and theoretical ideas discussed within this thesis paper.