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Faces of Research: Emily Duncan '14

Emily Duncan had been writing young adult fantasy novels since she was 15, and decided to tackle rewriting Bram Stoker's Dracula for her senior Honors Program thesis, only using the points of view of the female characters.

She titled the piece, She has a Man’s Brain and a Woman’s Heart: A New Approach to the Women in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Duncan presented her work at Malone's 2014 Research Symposium.

“Stoker wrote good characters, but he lived in the time of these weird Victorian gender issues, and when I read it, I thought he could have given the women better narratives,” Duncan said. “So I did.”

She also added illustrations – she wanted something that would be “unconventional, but still within my abilities.” So she made sketches, scanned them into the computer, found free stock images online, and put them behind her art to create a piece that she liked.

  • Mina

  • Dracula

  • Lily

“My project started out completely different – I was going to write a graphic novel, but I just couldn’t produce enough art to tell the story, and there was no way I was going to get through it,” Duncan said.

So she worked with her faculty mentors – Diane Chambers (Professor of English) and Clare Murray Adams (Professor Emeritus of Art) to figure out a different scope. Here’s her description of the 150-page novel she’s written so far:

My creative project fuses illustration and writing that brings the female characters of Dracula – Mina Harker and Lucy Westenra – to the forefront of the story. It focuses on the complexities of the female characters within their text without sacrificing the well-known themes of the original story.

Though the project has “eaten her semester,” Duncan enjoyed it, and chatted about the characters as though they were old friends.

“I didn’t think I would like Lucy – I thought she was frivolous – but I made her funny and really enjoyed her. I was sad when she died. I tried to work around it and not kill her, but that just didn’t work,” said Duncan. “Some of the characters I changed from male to female – Abraham got changed to Adelaide – that was fun. I did away with some of the characters, like poor Quincy the American. I didn’t need him.”

Duncan began the project after she returned from her summer studying in Oxford. She is at Kent State University’s master’s program in Library Science, focusing in young adult literature.