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Wed, 20 Apr 2011 13:02:38 EDT by admin, 127073 views
John Carroll University (Cleveland, OH)
Cultural Studies paper by Pereszlényi-Pintér, Mártha (all papers)
A Hungarian ‘Madwoman in the Attic’: Rehabilitating Elizabeth Báthory, a Seventeenth Century ‘Serial Killer,’ a.k.a. ‘The Blood Countess Dracula’
Countess Elizabeth Báthory lived in the late 1500s and early 1600s in the former Kingdom of Hungary. According to legend, while combing the aging and widowed Countess’s hair, a servant girl snagged and pulled it, whereupon Elizabeth slapped the girl, drawing blood, which fell upon the Countess’s skin. Upon rubbing the bloody spot, the skin underneath appeared fresh and rejuvenated. Thereafter, the Countess supposedly bathed in the blood of virgins, to stay forever young. She and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing over 600 girls and young women. Because of aristocratic privilege, Elizabeth was never formally tried in court, but in 1610, as punishment and upon orders of the King, she was imprisoned in Čachtice [Csejte] Castle (located in today’s Slovakia), where she remained bricked in a room until her death four years later.
Today, Elizabeth’s legend has left Hungary and “immigrated” world-wide. She appears in novels and over 200 films, many of which emphasize the sexual side of the trials to the degree that they become sexual sadism and sometimes outright “torture porn” – a fascinating tweak on her terrible tale - but not a topic for the squeamish! Most novelists and filmmakers try to ingratiate themselves to a male audience, with lots of naked-flesh and eye-candy, Dracula-style biting, and bloody gore. This paper alleges that: 1) Elizabeth because of her female gender was a “victim” rather than the perpetrator; 2) the stories of witchcraft, insanity, and cruelty were either grossly exaggerated or outright lies.
Brief Professional Bio:
Mártha Pereszlényi-Pintér is Chairperson of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Cultures and Associate Professor of French at John Carroll University in Cleveland, OH. She earned her Ph.D. in Romance Languages from The Ohio State University, and studied at the Institut de Touraine (Tours) and the Bryn Mawr Program (Avignon) in France. Her research and publication accomplishments include French and also Hungarian Literature and Culture of the pre-modern period (Medieval, Renaissance, 17th century), Film, and Language for Business & the Professions. She has read papers at national and international conferences. While at OSU, she wrote or co-wrote 16 manuals for individualized instruction in both French and Hungarian with group grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Annenberg Foundation. She was born in Austria and emigrated to the USA with her Hungarian parents. She is also a past President of AHEA, and chaired or co-chaired four past AHEA annual Conferences.