The mutating Mummy: from ancient artefact to modern attraction

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper explores the history of the Mummy in popular culture with a particular focus on its presentation in the cinema. It argues that the Mummy is a figure who has constantly transformed in response to changing public attitudes towards the science of archaeology and the cultural beliefs of the non-western culture from which it originated. As prolific in screen appearances and as established in the public consciousness as virtually any other screen monster, whilst additionally having a longer history than any of them, the Mummy has been dismissed again and again in books on cinema and horror as the star of a repetitive and derivative genre, making the Mummy as misrepresented and misunderstood as any figure in the history of cinema itself. Far from being maddeningly repetitive, the Mummy has instead been a refreshingly diverse figure and the Mummy's myriad on-screen incarnations have evidenced continued novelty and inventiveness as it has wavered between a creature born of the supernatural and one reanimated through the science of galvanism or serums and potions. After briefly discussing the Mummy’s appearances in literature and on the stage, the main focus will be on the early years of cinema and the Mummy’s presence on the silent screen and how these informed the heated debates that surrounded the discovery and consequent autopsy of Tutankhamen.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - Apr 2019
EventPopular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference - Washington DC, Washington, United States
Duration: 17 Apr 201920 Apr 2019

Academic conference

Academic conferencePopular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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