While the term sadomasochism might conjure cursory images of whips, chains, and leather-clad fetishists, this thesis delves deeper into sadomasochistic theory to analyze dynamics of power and powerlessness represented by a chosen sample of literary relationships. Using two contemporary works of vampire literatureâ€”Anne Rice's novel Interview with the Vampire and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight seriesâ€”I examine how power is structured by and between male and female characters (and vampires and humans), and particularly emphasize the patriarchal messages these works' regressive sexual politics engender. Psychoanalysis and feminist theory are employed to support my overarching argument following the gendered dynamics of male sadism and female masochism (and vampire sadism and human masochism), as this dyad reflects men's and women's "normalized" roles of power and powerlessness, respectively, in today's society. Sadomasochistic relationships as depicted in this literature are created through mutual contracts or, what I refer to as, sociocultural sadomasochism to reflect the gendered power imbalances inherent in patriarchy. By concluding with readers' responses to these franchises, this thesis further attempts to determine why such unequal and oppressive relationships are desirable. Since vampires as Gothic figures embody what specific cultures dread yet desire, this literature possesses frightening implicationsâ€”gender roles are conservative and masculinity is privileged in fiction and, by extension, in twenty-first-century American culture.
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Oliver, Kathleen M.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Nathanson, Shelby, "Bite Me: Sadomasochistic Gender Relations in Contemporary Vampire Literature" (2014). HIM 1990-2015. 1607.