Saturday 7 July 2012

Thoughts on the Bram Stoker Centenary Conference (Trinity College Dublin, July 5-6, 2012)

Three themes emerged from this stimulating conference. First, Stoker's Dracula is masterpiece and should be recognized as a work of literature rather than relegated to the Gothic genre. At the same time, the Stoker oeuvre is much larger and his other works deserve a wider recognition and appreciation. Secondly, the early short stories and novels contain seeds that came to full fruition in his most well-known novel, and that a reader can find in some of those works the influence of his early life, in his short stories Under the Sunset the writing of his mother on the 1830's cholera epidemic. Finally, and perhaps most important, authors of future Stoker studies need to be more rigorous about limiting themselves to empirical evidence (as little as there may be) in relating Stoker's life to his fiction and relying less on speculation.

Among the participants and family members were:                                
Professor Carol Senf
Carol Senf provided an importance paper reminding us that Stoker is more than a one-novel wonder and that he was capable of writing in the romance genre as well as the Gothic.

From left to right, Christopher Frayling, Luke Gibbons, Paul Murray, David Skal
Christopher Frayling offered a compelling paper on the importance of adhering to the documentary record, and less on speculation, when scholars attempt to relate the life of Stoker to Dracula.

Luke Gibbons is one of the Ireland's leading scholars on the Gothic and has published extensively.

Paul Murray has written the best biography thus far of Bram Stoker.

David Skal has written several books on popular culture and the Gothic and is currently working on a new biography of Stoker.

Gillian and William Hughes, the co-editor of Gothic Studies
William Hughes presented a paper that revealed the connections between Stoker's mother's reminiscences about the cholera epidemic of the early 1830s and his own early short stories.

Noel Dobbs and Robin MacCaw
Noel Dobbs and Robin MacCaw are the great-grandsons of Bram Stoker. Noel revealed that when they were small boys, their father was killed and they were raised by their grandfather, Noel, the only son of Bram and Florence Stoker.

Dacre Stoker and Elizabeth Miller
Dacre Stoker, the grandnephew of Bram Stoker, and Elizabeth Miller, one of Canada's most illustrious scholars on Dracula, were in Dublin to promote the publication of Bram Stoker's Journal that cover the Dublin years before he moved to London.                              

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