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Doctoral defense of Ádám Mézes

Wiertz Prematureburial
Wednesday, June 3, 2020, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Due to the extraordinary measures introduced by CEU in regard to the Covid-19 virus situation, the doctoral defense will take place on-line.
For further information, contact Margaretha Boockmann,
PhD coordinator (


“Doubt and Diagnosis:

Medical Experts and the Returning Dead of the Southern

Habsburg Borderland (1718-1766)”


The eighteenth century witnessed a keen interest in vampires, which the dissertation interprets as a case of extraordinary knowledge production on the margins of the known world. The research focus was directed at gravediggers, surgeons, and physicians of the Habsburg Monarchy, who were entrusted to apply their expertise on diagnosing the vampiric attack and to help regulate the unruly dead. Throughout the first half of the eighteenth century, these specialists served a variety of social groups, from local peasant communities through administrative-judicial structures to the republic of letters. The historical sources that they produced on the returning dead unveil actors, interests and intense negotiations about what is 'normal' and what is 'abnormal' when it comes to death and decay, about who is to be accepted as an expert, and about what constitutes credible proof. The dissertation argues that the resulting knowledge on vampires was social, political, and bore the mark of the environment where it was produced.

Examination Committee

Katalin Szende – Chair (Medieval Studies, CEU)

László Kontler – supervisor (Department of History, CEU)

Gábor Klaniczay – supervisor (Medieval Studies, CEU)

Emese Lafferton – CEU internal member (Department of History)

Dániel Bárth – external member (Institute of Ethnology, ELTE)

Francesco Paolo de Ceglia – external member (Department of Humanities, University of Bari Aldo Moro)


The doctoral dissertation is available for inspection. Should you wish to access it, please contact
Margaretha Boockmann (