Film & Media Studies Theory

Whitman College – FMS 387

The Work of Abjection: Dracula

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Dracula is an elicitation of abjection through the horror film, demonstrating its three primary forms as outlined by Creed. First and foremost, however, abjection is understood as “the breaking down of a world that has erased its borders: fainting away. The corpse, seen without God and outside of science, is the utmost of abjection. It is death infecting life. Abject. It is something rejected from which one does not part, from which one does not protect oneself as from an object” (Kristeva 4). Abjection stresses ambiguity in that it exists to dissemble and threaten the structure of the world. Already, Dracula himself is the manifestation of this example in an even more grotesque, abject form. Because he is not living he is a corpse, which in itself behaves as the “utmost of abjection,” a constant reminder to the living that life exists in the perpetual danger of being absent. However, this corpse does not behave as the traditional structure of the world deems that it should, instead carrying out the actions of a living body by taking the blood of others. This example is also definitive of abjection in horror films specifically, for “the horror film abounds in images of abjection, foremost of which is the corpse, whole and mutilated, followed by an array of bodily wastes such as blood, vomit, saliva, sweat, tears, and putrifying flesh” (Creed 253). The corpse, or Dracula, not only lacks life and therefore threatens it, but breaks down the established borders of “alive” and “dead” by simulating cannibalism and consuming the bodily fluids of others that are often the things of abjection themselves. Additionally, Dracula illustrates the third way in which Creed speaks to abjection as the mutilation of the maternal figure. The victims of Dracula’s cannibalistic actions are often young, beautiful women who are not only subjected these actions but forced to perform them upon Dracula himself. They are defiled and mutilated by the abjection, thus becoming the abjection and carrying out its function.


Author: Denali Elliott

I am an undergraduate student at Whitman College and will graduate with a Film & Media Studies major, English and Politics double minor in the spring of 2015. Aspiring to become a multimedia, international journalist, I enjoy creating short films or experimenting with photography and writing through both academic work and free time. My latest films and photographs will be the product of my travels to Zurich, Switzerland and Paris, France over spring break. In addition, I share my work from an Advanced Filmmaking class, The Pioneer (a school newspaper), and projects or classes prior to this year.

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