‘Everything happens in Laura’s dorm room’: Carmilla webseries reimagines LeFanu’s novella

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsSeminar/WorkshopResearch


The Canadian webseries Carmilla (2014-) is both an adaptation of Sheridan LeFanu’s 1872 novella and—with three 36-episode seasons (and a season zero), inter-seasonal content, over 35 million YouTube views, and a movie—a successful transmedia production in its own right. This paper examines Carmilla and its operation as a digital reimagining for the twenty-first century, arguing that its success demonstrates the flexibility of Gothic tropes, characters and narratives. The updated setting (a university campus) and mode (straight to camera pieces ‘filmed’ on journalism student Laura’s webcam) make the characters and their situation familiar for viewers who might never have read ‘Carmilla’ by drawing on teen genres and found footage horror. Adapting the novella as a single frame vlog-style webseries involves negotiation of the ‘original’, not least, as creator Hall notes, that ‘everything happens in Laura’s dorm room’ (in O’Reagan 2014). All the regular characters are female and ‘somewhere on the LGBT spectrum’ (Hall in O’Reagan 2014), a call back to the way LeFanu’s novella has frequently been adapted or used as inspiration for lesbian vampire stories. This also helps the webseries find its audience: despite entrenched assumptions about horror and who it is ‘for’, women have long been horror fans and Carmilla has a loyal fan following of ‘creampuffs.’ By analysing the various creative decisions in adapting ‘Carmilla,’ this paper argues that the webseries is a key site challenging outmoded assumptions about Gothic, horror, adaptation and remakes, target audience and use of spectacle and gore.
Period8 Nov 2017
Event titleCultural, Communication and Media Research Group Seminar
Event typeOther
LocationSalford, United KingdomShow on map