Call For Papers: Dracula Returns – a conference and celebration Derby 15-18 May 2025


On behalf of the Dracula Returns to Derby (AHRC funded project) team, in advance of World Dracula Day (this Sunday 26 May), we are delighted to share with you the following call for papers.


Dracula Returns: a conference and celebration

 Derby Museums

15–18 May 2025


In 1924, at the world premiere in Derby, Dracula stepped onto the stage. He was charming and suave, a different vampire to the monster of Bram Stoker’s novel. When the curtain rose, Hamilton Deane’s adaptation debuted Dracula in evening dress and cloak. The monstrous nosferatu of the novel was recast as an urbane and sophisticated figure, still threatening but more of an insider than an invader. The Derby Dracula became wildly successful; the show toured the country and, from the West End, transferred to Broadway, where Bela Lugosi was cast as the Count. This production was then adapted by Hollywood for the iconic 1931 film. Since then Dracula has manifested in diverse forms: books, cartoons, toys, video games and many hundreds of films, from Blacula (1972) to children’s favourite Hotel Transylvania (2012). Dracula is one of the most adapted characters in the world, destined to reappear in diverse cultures and forms, transcending gender and ethnic boundaries through his/her/its appeal. The home of this cultural journey is Derby.

Dracula Returns is a conference and celebration marking the 101st anniversary of Dracula’s licensed stage appearance in Derby. It begins with a site-specific performance in the same building that housed the original performance. The following conference is the culmination of an AHRC Curiosity research project charging Derby with the vampiric energy of the Count.


What, though, is the nature of this energy, if indeed we can call it that? Accordingly, we ask what is mobilised by the Draculas that exist beyond Bram Stoker’s text and consider the ways in which he/she/it has been made to mean. Does Dracula suck (as per the 1978 pornographic film), or is there also a succour, of sorts? This vampire may be an abuser, destroyer and sadist, yet they are also a source of comedy and a figure of love. How has the character come to represent the other, and in so doing stand-in as a figure of sympathy for the outsider and the marginalised? How is all this packaged, sold, marketised and monetised (with reference, of course, to Marx’s vampires)? Above all, Dracula is a creature of value, both a magnet for tourism and a mine for adaptation, and it is through manifesting this value that the conference attempts to reckon with it. All attendees will be invited attempt to break the world record of the amount of people dressed as Dracula.


We intend to bring together scholars, practitioners and members of the public for four days of events and discussion about Dracula in its many forms: in relation to theatre, literature, cinema, television, photography, digital and online media. The multidisciplinary nature of the conference is aimed at a broad spectrum of scholars and speakers with a focus on diverse aspects of Dracula as pertaining to their own discipline or interests.  We seek papers that address the span of representations, adaptations, mediums and interactions with the character and related locations across its history, present and complex future. We are interested in heritage, tourism and ostensive action. The conference is interdisciplinary, at the intersection of art, creative writing, folkloristics, literary and theatre studies, heritage studies, human geography, tourism, media studies and Dracula studies.

The conference period will include a number of celebratory cultural activities that we warmly encourage all delegates to attend. These include a Dracula-inspired art build linked with Derby’s Museum of Making; The Derby Dracula Monster Mash, a themed garage-rock music festival celebrating underground DIY music with a genre that has decades-long associations with horror, b-movie monsters and punk rock spirit; a Vampire slam open-mic night; a vampires in-reggae dancehall event; and a world-breaking record attempt for the amount of people dressed as Dracula: don your cape!

Proposals should be 250 words max for 15-minute papers, we also welcome suggestions for special events (including interventions, screenings, demonstrations or performances), themed or grouped panels, or anything that you think might manifest the conference’s themes.


Possible topics to be explored, but not limited to, include:

  • Dracula/the vampire in theatre
  • Dracula and adaptation
  • Dracula/the vampire in film, television and other media
  • Dracula and the horror genre
  • Dracula and diversity
  • Dracula, vampires and queerness
  • Vampire literature
  • Vampire representations for children
  • The happy gothic
  • International interpretations and representations of Dracula
  • Dracula outside of horror
  • Vampires in the news
  • Vampire legends
  • Dracula and religion, Dracula and spirituality
  • Histories of Dracula
  • Dracula and Whitby
  • Dracula and material culture
  • Dark tourism and legend tripping
  • Vampires and the body
  • Fandom and fascination
  • Locations and landscapes
  • Beliefs, cults and moral panics
  • The vampire as threat, tormentor, abuser
  • Comedic and parodic representations
  • Commercialism, tourism and merchandising
  • Cultural influences and impacts


Proposals are due by Halloween, 31 October 2024. Proposals and abstracts of 250 words (or further enquiries), can be submitted via email to dracula [at] derby [dot] ac [dot] uk

We will provide speakers and delegates with information about location, refreshments and accommodation nearer the time.


Please read The Guardian article on the project here.