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Heather Joseph-Witham: 2007-08 Faculty Development Grant Report

 

 Haunted Mortuary

The Haunted Mortuary, has documented spirits and a new section featuring Anne Rice's vampire paraphernalia.

I received a faculty development grant in the fall of 2007. I used the money to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana to perform ethnography and interview vampires and vampire fans during the busiest time of the year for the undead: Halloween!

I filmed interviews and events in order to create a documentary video. This video - Visiting Vampires in the Big Easy - takes the viewer on a magic carpet ride through vampire tourism in New Orleans.

Vampires have become increasingly visible in the 21st century. They are no longer viewed as the bloodthirsty beasts of yesteryear but are seen as romantic outsiders longing to find love and have a luscious bite or two from a willing donor. Vampire fiction has moved on from the morbid folkloric nosferatu, and the aristocratic beasts of Polidori, le Fanu and Stoker. Indeed, vampires in modern fiction are often tortured, sexy, gorgeous, wealthy, mysterious and lonely. The books frequently chronicle the handsome but unhappy vampire’s meeting with his destined future companion. Such romantic visions increase vampire fandom and bring hordes of women to sites such as New Orleans to seek out the misunderstood vampire or at least to converse with others who dream of befanged outsiders as well. Such connections between fan folk frequently occur through the web but are solidified during vampire tourist events.

Joseph-Witham and Kenyon

Heather Joseph-Witham with bestselling vampire romance author Sherrilyn Kenyon.

 Vampire couple

A vamp couple at the annual Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat Ball.