Personal profile

Research interests

Sam George is Associate Professor in Research in the School of Creative Arts. She is Research Lead for Literature and also the Research Champion for the university's Heritage, Cultures and Communities theme.  She leads the Film Heritage strand of the Heritage Hub. Sam is best known as the Convenor of the popular Open Graves, Open Minds Research Project, founded in 2010. And for having an unusual research specialism in vampires; she featured in the BBC's Seven of the Most Unusual Areas of University Research. She is active in engaging with the public about her research on social media and has built up 32K followers @DrSamGeorge1 for an account that uses gothic literature and folklore to re-enchant the landscape after the confines of Lockdown.  Her unusual area of research has brought her many opportunities for public engagement and media, from appearances at the Edinburgh Festival and Living Frankenstein, to guesting on the BBC World Service's 'The Forum' on Dracula, and at the BFI's Blood and Celluloid Festival. She recently recorded an obituary of gothic writer Anne Rice for BBC Radio 4's Last Word, and appeared on BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking on Varney the Vampire. She was a guest on Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time for Radio 4 on John Polidori's 'The Vampyre'

Following OGOM’s international conference on vampires in 2010, Sam developed the first ever postgraduate module on vampire studies in the UK, exciting the interest of the national and international press. She is now a leading spokesperson for the literary vampire. Her interviews have appeared in newspapers from The Guardian and The Independent to the Sydney Morning Herald, The South China Post, and the Wall Street Journal. She’s a regular contributor to The Conversation, amassing 308,339 reads for her lively and unusual articles on vampires, werewolves and fairies.

Her work with the Open Graves, Open Minds project has led to a number of co-edited publications with Dr Bill Hughes: Representations of Vampires and the Undead from the Enlightenment to the Present Day (2012); In the Company of Wolves: Werewolves, Wolves and Wild Children (2020); The Legacy of John Polidori: The Romantic Vampire and its Progeny (2024) and the forthcoming collection ‘Ill met by moonlight’: Gothic Encounters with Enchantment and the Faerie Realm in Literature and Culture. Sam also co-edited the first ever issue of Gothic Studies on ‘Vampires’ with Bill Hughes in 2013 (15.1) and ‘Werewolves’ in 2019 (21.1).

Sam has a background in Literature and Science. Inspired by the eighteenth-century botanist Tournefort, who voyaged in search of plants and found instead a plague of vampires on the island of Mykonos (1702), her research has taken a gothic turn. Following the publication of her book Botany, Sexuality and Women’s Writing (2007), and her contribution to New York Botanical Garden’s Poetic Botany exhibition and the co-editorship of Women and Botany (2011); she began researching vampires in literature and folklore and founded her gothic research group  Open Graves, Open Minds

The Open Graves, Open Minds Project, began by unearthing depictions of the vampire and the undead in literature, art, and other media, then embraced werewolves (and representations of wolves and wild children), fairies, and other supernatural beings and their worlds. The Project extends to all narratives of the fantastic, the folkloric, and the magical, emphasising that sense of Gothic as enchantment rather than simply horror. Through this, OGOM is articulating an ethical Gothic, cultivating moral agency and creating empathy for the marginalised, monstrous or othered, including the disenchanted natural world. 

Sam is focussing her new research on the intersection between folklore and the gothic. She is completing a monograph: Shadowy Folkore in Nineteenth-Century Gothic Fiction: Lost Reflections, Sentient Shadows and Stolen Souls and planning a book on Gothic Fairies: A History for Bloomsbury. She is editing the Cambridge Companion to the Vampire (2025) and is in the early stages of  a book on UK vampires in literature and folklore for Polity Press.  

She has been researching America’s first Black Vampyre, in an anti-slavery text written in 1819 and publishing on British werewolves in the journal of Gothic Studies and Japanese mermaids in the Critical Quarterly (the journal’s most downloaded article), 

Elsewhere she is leading an Impact Case Study on 'ethical gothic': ‘Open Graves, Open Minds: Promoting empathy and interrogating difference through public engagement with gothic narratives’. 

OGOM continues to host world leading symposia in the gothic. Following the phenomenal success of OGOM’S international vampire conference in 2010, there followed the UK’s first ever 3-day werewolf conference in 2015 (plus symposia on Stoker and Polidori) and a 4-day international conference on Gothic Fairies in 2021, OGOM hosted Nosferatu at 100: The Vampire as Contagion and Monstrous Outsider in March 2022.  

OGOM has also hosted 3 events for the Being Human Festival; ‘Redeeming the Wolf’ and ‘Gothic Visions of New Worlds’ and Breaking Through to Faery, and a 2-day conference on The Urban Weird with the Supernatural Cities Project at University of Portsmouth.


Commercial and public engagement

Impact Case Study REF 2020: Open Graves, Open Minds: Promoting empathy and interrogating difference through public engagement with Gothic narratives

Sam's research, developing directly out of the Open Graves, Open Minds research project, has focused on the ‘ethical Gothic’ – the contribution Gothic narratives can make to ethical causes. Through extensive public engagement, pedagogical innovation and educational outreach activities, she has i) increased public awareness of how Gothic narratives can challenge public perceptions of otherness and difference, helping to combat prejudice and hate crime through her work with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation ii) used her research into folklore and myth to promote ecological conservation, working with the UK Wolf Conservation Trust to help inform public perceptions of wolves; iii) worked with and inspired the creative writing of the late novelist Marcus Sedgwick.

Research Project: The Open Graves Open Minds website, has enjoyed a large readership, with 286,480 visits to date. It is being preserved by the British Library Web Archive, which documents resources of scholarly and cultural importance. Sam's profile has been heightened by her radio broadcasts, TV appearances and newspaper interviews (BBC News, BBC World Service, ITV This Morning, The Guardian, Times, THES, Wall Street Journal, etc.).

Interview highlights have included: 

  • ‘Blood, Sweat and Fears’, interviewed by Lucy Tobin, The Guardian, 6 April 2010
  • ‘Vampires make it into Academia’, video footage, The Wall Street Journal, 5 June 2010
  • ‘Counting on Dracula’, interviewed by Simon Midgley, The Times, 16 March 2011
  • ‘Seven of the More Unusual Areas of University Research’, interviewed by Laurence Cawley at the BBC, 26 November 2013
  • ‘University to Host International Werewolf Conference’, interviewed by Laurence Cawley, BBC News, 22 August 2015
  •  Werewolf conference billed as first for UK Academy’, interviewed in the Times Higher Education, 31 August 2015

She has published widely in the press. Her total overall reads for The Conversation alone are 303,339. 

Journalism highlights:

Public appearances have included, but are not limited to: a Film 4 and BAFTA Panel, BBC World Service broadcast, Book Show, Sky Arts, The Edinburgh Festival, Warner Brothers Documentary, Being Human Festival, Battle of Ideas, Living Frankenstein, ITV This Morning, The Manchester Gothic Festival, BBC4 In Our Time, BBC 3 Freethinking.

Highlights (2021-Present)

Highlights (2017‒19):

  • ‘Dracula’, with Dacre Stoker, The Forum, BBC World Service, 20 September 2017.
  • ‘Redeeming the Wolf’, talks/screening/public debate in collaboration with UK Wolf Conservation Trust for the Being Human Festival, 18 November 2017.
  • ‘Books of Blood: Objects Lost and Found’, a ‘Show and Tell’ Workshop for Being Human Festival, at the Old Operating Theatre, London, 23 November 2017.
  • Panel and Q & A on Frankenstein for 12 sixth forms at The Abbey Theatre, St Albans, 3 March 2018.
  • Collaboration with Sarah Churchwell for ‘Living Frankenstein’, an immersive theatre event at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, later touring to Bath Literary Festival, 20- 23 May 2018. 
  • Appearance at the Edinburgh Festival in ‘Battle of the Books: Dracula v Frankenstein’ with the prize-winning writer Marcus Sedgwick. Coverage: The Edinburgh News, The Edinburgh Reporter, The Scotsman, The Skinny, 20 August 2018.
  • Part two of Battle of the Books at Conway Hall, London, 4 September 2018.
  • OGOM Gothic Tour of St Albans exploring the city’s magical and supernatural history; blanket coverage in Hertfordshire and St Albans press and a sell-out attendance. 31 October 2018, 2019.
  • 'Old Stinker and Other UK Werewolves’, The Haunted Landscape: Magic and Monsters of the British Isles; Conway Hall, London. 23 November 2019. Attendees 450, plus live streaming on social media.


Teaching specialisms

Sam is committed to high quality research-led teaching and is a Fellow of the HEA. She has taught broadly across the curriculum at levels 4–7 at three universities. She currently module leads ‘Romantic Origins and Gothic Afterlives’ (level 4); ‘Generation Dead: YA Fiction and the Gothic’ (level 6); ‘Research Methods 2’ (MA level), ‘Reading the Vampire’ (MA level) ‘Dissertation’ (MA level). She has been instrumental in curriculum development, planning and convening the core course on ‘The Enlightenment’ at Level 5 and designing level 4 and level 6 options on Romanticism (including ‘Romantic Child’ (level 6)).

Student feedback for both optional modules and core courses has been extremely positive; 'thank you for giving us somthing new, refreshing and modern' ('YA Fiction and the Gothic', level 6 student). Her MA module was awarded its own commendation in the MA Literature Periodic Review re: ‘innovative staff/student collaboration on the Reading the Vampire module and project’.  She was nominated for a Teaching Staff Member of the Year award in the 2022 Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for excellence in postgraduate teaching. 

She is an experienced supervisor with a number of PhD completions and vivas to date. She welcomes proposals on any aspect of Gothic Studies, Folklore and Fairytale, Young Adult Gothic Fiction, Animal Studies or Botanical Literature and Culture. She is currently supervising 5 PhD students. 

PhD Supervision (2024)

  • Jane Gill, ‘The Monstrous Feminine: A Female Gothic Perspective on the Lamia and Soucoyant Archetypes in Literature, C. 1820-2000’
  • Shabnam Ahsan, ‘FromColoniality to Postcoloniality in British Fairy Tales 1880-Present’. 
  • Daisy Butcher, ‘Dangerous Wombs and Killer Blooms: The Female Mummy and Floral Femme Fatale as Monsters of (In)fertility’
  • Harley Tillotson, co-supervisor, ‘Ecology in YA Fairy Fiction: Eco-Gothic Approaches to Contemporary Environmental Issues’
  • Tatiyana Bastet, co-supervisor, ‘The Practice of Dolls as Conjured from Shadow: Materiality at the Intersection of Myth, Memory, and Magic’


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