Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


American Studies

First Advisor

Bill Mullen

Committee Member 1

Samantha Blackmon

Committee Member 2

Marlo David

Committee Member 3

Dino Felluga


This project engages in a critical examination of the figure of the sympathetic vampire in paranormal romance novels and its relationship to neoliberal individualism, using an analytic frame informed by Valerie Smith's conceptualization of black feminist thinking; it focuses on the portrayal of the neoliberal institutions of nationalism, race, heterosexuality, and motherhood within Jewelle Gomez's The Gilda Stories, L.A. Banks's Minion, and Charlaine Harris's Dead Until Dark. As the ideology of neoliberal individualism has shaped the dominant discourse of the United States, neoliberal individualism has also remade the discourse of monstrosity with regard to vampires. The shifting representation of the vampire in many paranormal romances is profoundly conflicted; it often explicitly calls attention to the injustice of social inequalities while also implicitly reinforcing institutional ideologies that deny the impact of capitalism and reinforce neoliberal individualism. This project illuminates how, within the paradigm of dominant neoliberal discourse, paranormal romances with vampire/human liaisons construct gender-specific, race-dependent understandings of cultural narratives that draw upon the ideological frames of neoliberal institutions to perpetuate social inequality.