Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type



English Language and Literatures

Director of Thesis

Alyssa Collins

First Reader

Greg Forter

Second Reader

Greg Forter


For contemporary audiences the word “vampire” typically conjures two figures: a Damon Salvatore-esque[1] man with devil may care eyes, dark hair and an equally dark past. Dripping with sex and charm, he struggles with an internal dilemma, his animalistic urge to kill constantly at war with his human morality. On the other hand, we have the sexy, scantily clad white female vampire who uses her feminine wiles and socially “perfect” body to prey upon poor, unsuspecting men, until she is eventually corralled into domestic submission, or killed. While this description fits the broader scale of what the vampiric figure is, in recent years there has been an undeniable and intentional shift in the use of the vampire in literature, and in turn this shift has changed the direction of where writers and creators might take the vampire in the future. This thesis explores the most daring of these new works, Octavia E. Butler’s Fledgling. I locate the novel in a history of the genre while providing an interpretation of its contributions to the racial and gender revisioning of the vampire.

[1] Damon Salvatore is one of the main characters in the hit TV show The Vampire Diaries. He is an ex-confederate soldier turned vampire known for his smoldering good looks and brooding sarcastic attitude. See Appendix, Image 1.

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© 2023, Abigail Cole