This chapter examines how fictional vampires problematise received notions of women’s passivity, ‘natural’ nurturing skills and social conformity, suggesting that female vampires destabilise such comfortable, culturally inflected investments. Performativity, abjection and carnival lie at the heart of their construction and representation so there is a constant tension between punishment and celebration of their transgressive nature. Ranging across a number of nineteenth-century texts, it is suggested that they can be read as indicating gaps and fissures in social certainties and as nightmares emanating from the zones of patriarchy. In the twentieth century powerful female vampires may be found in the fiction of Angela Carter, who provide templates for later authors. In these later texts and in various lesbian vampire fictions, vampires become liberating, feminist figures: sexually transgressive, they undermine received certainties of identity, family, and hierarchy based on gender, sexuality and ethnicity. But they can also represent the energy of social activism as in Nalo Hopkinson’s ‘Greedy Choke Puppy’. The chapter concludes with an analysis of two recent dramatic works by Ana Lily Amirpour and Moira Buffini, in which vampires are shown as becoming angels of mercy and women become self-sufficient, despite poverty and vulnerability.
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