There is a growing terminology that my word processor never likes and continues to remind me of its dislike with angry red squiggly lines. These words include, but are not limited to ‘vampirology,’ ‘vampirologist,’ ‘werewolfology,’ and ‘werewolfologist.’ It prefers words like Parapsychologist or Cryptozoologist, but those words do not reflect the meaning I am searching for. Instead, I want words that convey belief, open-mindedness, and acceptance. Screw you, word processor!
Okay, now that we’ve moved past that, I’m pretty sure we all know what a vampirologist is. Nevertheless, for those of you less acquainted with the word, a vampirologist is an individual who bases their main study or research around vampires. And this study can encompass any broad range of approaches, such as vampires in literature or media, the history of the vampire, folklore of the vampire, or even medical research or documentation regarding vampires and the like. In any case, a vampirologist devotes their mind to knowing and/or proving (or disproving) all-things vampire.
Some well-known historical vampirologists include Philip Rorh and Micha‘l Ranft, two theologians who wrote specifically of “The Chewing Dead” in the 17th and 18th centuries, and a bit more recently, Montague Summers, an eccentric English author and clergyman born in the late 19th century who claimed to believe in vampires, witches, a werewolves. More modern vampirologists that I’ve been able to dig up include Dr. Franz Cudja (although this one is most likely fabricated), Pam Keesey, Joe Nickell, and various University Professors.
Perhaps one of the most prominent modern vampirologists was Stephen Kaplan, the founder of The Vampire Research Center in 1972. A well-known author and lecturer on the subject, Kaplan actually first set out to rationalize vampirism. His first book published in 1976, “Pursuit of Premature Gods and Contemporary Vampires,” called vampirism nothing more than psychological impairment. His second book, however, was a completely different story. Published in 1984, “Vampires Are” discussed real-life vampires with which Kaplan had developed personal relationships with through The Vampire Research Center. Kaplan also conducted the first-ever official vampire census, estimating that there were nearly 200 actual vampires in North America alone based on his findings.
John L. Vellutini is another well-known vampirologist who was the editor of the “Journal of Vampirology,” a scholarly journal published from 1984 to 1990. Vellutini wrote most of the included articles and based the majority of his work on vampire folkore. Intriguingly, he believed that vampirism was caused by a bacterial infection, so to speak. Vellutini also largely studied vampiric folklore in regions of Africa, and although he believed there to be little literal vampirism occurring in Africa, he drew direct correlations between African and European beliefs in the undead.
I believe there are, in fact, many other vampirologists out there who don’t actually claim the title of vampirologist. Nevertheless, those well-known and those not both contribute greatly to what information we have regarding vampires, and we owe them our thanks and gratitude – regardless of whether my word processor likes them or not.