Body and Blood: Literary Vampirism at the Intersection of Theological Hunger and Physical Waste

Lit Med. 2022;40(1):147-166. doi: 10.1353/lm.2022.0013.


Bram Stoker's Dracula, Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla," and Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles all paint a picture of primeval hunger. But the satiation of this hunger sustains an undead, monstrous existence. Essentially an animated corpse, the vampire embodies what Julia Kristeva has described de facto as waste. The image of the vampire perverts everything that is sacred: signficantly, it reverses the ritual of the Eucharist. Yet in doing so, it fosters an uncanny exploration of theological hunger at the heart of bodily waste. Three different models of vampirism show us how Stoker, Le Fanu, and Rice play with the concept of vital hunger at the heart of waste. At times a monstered mother, at times an uncanny lover, the vampire always feeds, and in feeding spreads waste. This essay asks: how does literary vampirism make use of waste to explore theological anxieties?

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hunger
  • Medicine in Literature*