Sunday, May 15, 2011

Continuing my research paper

In this same search I found Paul Barber’s Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality. Unlike the first book, this is written by one person, namely Paul Barber. As stated on the Yale University Press website, this book gives the “first scientific explanation for the origins of the vampire legend.” Thus this book does exactly what is needed for this paper. In ways it actually looks at the legends as based in truth and aims to separate the fact from the fiction. In sections like “The Vampire’s Activity,” Barber examines different emergences of vampires in different cultures’ folklore and examines the validity of each statement.

This book was published by the Yale University Press, so just as before this is automatically a more credible source because of the rigorous peer-review process it must go through. However, Barber’s credentials were difficult to find online. This was because there is also an actor and a professor at UCLA with those same names. I was able to find that he is an anthropologist. This, once again, gives a little more validity to this book as a resource because its author is working in a scientific field of study that would assist in making this a usable resource.

Through my analysis I find this book to be a valid resource. It covers many concepts and ideas dealing with the actual folklore aspects behind the vampire and dissects them into manageable pieces so researchers can understand where the legends came from and what is valid in them.

The next book I found was Slayers and their Vampires: A Cultural History of Killing the Dead by Bruce A. McClelland. Just looking at the title I was skeptical about this book because it seemed as if it might focus more on popular culture aspects within the legend of the vampire. While this book does touch on some of those aspects, it also talks about where stories like Dracula diverted from the demonic tales from Roumanian and other Balkan cultures.

McClelland was another difficult person to track down online. As far as I can tell he does have a PhD and his doctoral thesis was Sacrifice, Scapegoat, Vampire: The Social and Religious Origins of the Bulgarian Folkloric Vampire. The book I currently am in possession of seems to be working in conjunction, or merely adding to, his thesis so I feel this lends a great deal of credibility to this work.

Compared to the other two books previously mentioned I feel that Slayers and their Vampires is the least useful books thus far. However, overall it is a good resource. While it does focus a great deal on culture misrepresentations of vampire lore, it does discuss the origins and allows for meaning to be deciphered. Chapters like “Back from the Dead” and “Conversion to the Balkans” seem extremely helpful in looking at the vampire’s origins.

This book was published at the University of Michigan Press as with the last two books, I feel this adds a little extra validity to the text because of the fact it was printed by a university press. Overall, this is a valid and helpful text in my research on the topic of vampires. However, the good and useful information is harder to find and this volume must be read carefully to pick out the true representations from the ones based in popular culture.

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