The conference initiative
Celebrating 25 years of TSD with new insights into the Dracula story
As supporting research on Bram Stoker's Dracula and its relationship with Romania has always been the main goal of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, it is only logical that the 25th anniversary of the Society will be celebrated with another World Dracula Congress. But even without such a round anniversary, the time seems ripe for another global gathering of Dracula fans and scholars.
Already at the conference Bram Stoker and Gothic Transformations, hosted by the University of Hull, 12-14 April 2012, keynote speaker Prof. em. Clive Bloom of Midlesex University challenged the presenters to come up with something new and groundbreaking on the subject. Now, 3½ years later, we may say that quite an amount of such original research has been accomplished and published, and that the time has come to take a look at this rich harvest.
Simultaneously, it has become evident that the Transylvanian Society of Dracula needs the input from fresh and enthusiastic researchers to keep the organisation - its newsletters and initiatives included - young and alive. While the first generation of members can look back to a long and successful battle against the crude misinterpretations of the 1970's and 80's, new energy is needed to carry on the flame and keep it burning. A well-reasoned discovery or two is not enough: public opinion is slow and hard to change and most of the mainstream media are not interested in spreading new insights requiring a more profound thinking; instead, they rather repeat the same old stories about a historical blood-drinking sadistic vampire-warrior. This is the experience Elizabeth Miller had to make over the last decades when she pleaded for a "divorce" of the imaginary vampire Count and the historical person of Vlad III Dracula; while making my own discoveries, I was faced with the same lack of public interest, and I am sure that many of the candidate-speakers at the 2016 conference have been confronted with a similar inertia. The moral support and feedback from TSD members, other researcher colleagues and the Stoker family have motivated me to keep going. Taking the iniative for the 2016 conference is my way to say "thank you" and help launching a new paradigm of Stoker research that goes beyond the well-known Count Dracula/Vlad Dracula debate of the last decades. With his BBEC Conference in Timișoara, June 2015, TSD member Marius Crișan had shown us a viable way of organising such an event and right now, he is advising us on such important issues as the financing and the academic recognition of the conference. I am also very glad that Kristin Bone and Magdalena Grabias, with both of whom I spent a good time in Timișoara, listened to my call and joined as members - and immediately accepted responsibility for setting up the Dublin meeting. I also welcome Prof. Bill Hughes from Bath Spa as a new member; Bill was one of the first to express his interest in joining the 2016 conference, promising to come up with something new and original.
Something new and original is also what we hope to hear from other speakers - be it the keynote speakers or the workshop participants; innovation in Dracula research will be our key focus. At the same time, we hope that this gathering and the many discussion perspectives it offers may lead to a good - or better - contact between fans and experts worldwide. Getting to know each other personally is the precondition for an intensified cooperation, both between individuals and organisations. For this reason, we also hope to set up an interesting side programme - lunching together, meeting the Bram Stoker Club, exploring the Trinity campus, joint cultural activities, sightseeing in Dublin - so that informal interaction may flourish.
10 October 2015