“Mirrors Can Give Us Space to Imagine…” Representations of Gender and Sexuality in BBC’s Dracula (2020)
Date of Award
Master of Arts
Michael Newman, David Allen
BBC, Dracula, gender, Moffat, sexuality
What follows discusses how BBC’s Dracula uses character representations, scripted dialogue, and narrative to challenge and perpetuate the dominant ideologies of our society. Dracula exposes the tensions in the growing cultural acceptance of, but also increased resistance to, the fluidity of gender and sexuality in contemporary western culture. I contextualize representations of women and queer characters in Dracula with the broader issues of gender and sexuality in our current socio-political environment. Queer horror looks at Dracula as a text that arouses cultural anxieties concerning sexuality, while also attempting to illustrate fear within queer communities and subcultures. In many ways, the current Dracula parallels the queer historical readings of this text, but often, instead of embracing queerness, the ancillary LGBTQ+ representations in Dracula (2020) are regressive. These problematic representations, coupled with the co-creator, Steven Moffat, refusing to see the queer tendencies in Dracula, imposes a resistance to the queer horror narrative. In addition to examining the representations of sexuality I also analyze the portrayals of gender and race featured in the mini-series. My thesis investigates the sexist and racist representations of women in Dracula, asking whether the genderswap of Agatha Van Helsing can be considered feminist from the mere embodiment of a traditionally male role. I analyze queer and feminist theories in relationship to Dracula and contemporary horror television. Dracula’s character representations straddle the binaries of masculine/feminine, gay/straight, life/death, and attractive/repulsive, thereby arousing cultural anxieties concerning gender and sexuality. Dracula resists the canonical queer readings of the text and fails to address the concerns of women in the show, mirroring society’s continued fears of nonnormative identities. This project is a critique of one example from the growing horror television landscape and its focus on bringing marginalized stories to the center of the narrative. Dracula illustrates that even when the representations of characters revert to heteronormative displays, queerness always resides in the vampire metaphor, and in the horror genre more broadly. Holding a mirror up to Dracula provides opportunities to interrogate our biases and prejudices and begin to reveal the truths about ourselves and our societies.
Slyter, Riana S., "“Mirrors Can Give Us Space to Imagine…” Representations of Gender and Sexuality in BBC’s Dracula (2020)" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 2837.
Communication Commons, Gender and Sexuality Commons, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Commons