Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 November 2016
Since the late 1980s and Elaine Showalter's influential Sexual Anarchy, it has become axiomatic to read Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula as a text that responds to anxieties of degeneration through metaphors of infection (184). Given the obvious sexual nature of the threat represented by the vampire, critics have focused on syphilis as the text's most immediate disease of reference. They have identified many important correspondences between Stoker's text and racialized fears of decline through blood and bloodlines, drawing connections between Stoker's own possible demise from syphilis, the history of contagious diseases legislation, and the scandal surrounding Ibsen's Ghosts (1882). But, as Martin Willis has noted, there continues to be “a need to reassess Dracula within the contexts of disease theories that allows for a more historically rigorous analysis of the novel” (302).