Bill Hughes, ‘”But by blood no wolf am I”: Language and Agency, Instinct and Essence – Transcending Antinomies in Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver series’

More from me on YA paranormal romance. This time, I’m writing about Maggie Stiefvater’s beautifully written and very moving werewolf romance, Shiver. Shapeshifter fictions, for obvious reasons, allow writers to explore all that is animal and instinctive about human beings and thus about what it means to be human. Choosing wolves as the animal involved also brings in notions of hierarchy and, inevitably, sexual pleasures and gender. For wolves are pack animals and the freedom of the wolf allows a heightened, uninhibited sexuality. But that pack nature leads to problematic issues over male dominance (and rank in general) and the joy of animality is also a loss of agency, for wolves’ desire is automatic and instinctual.

Thus many werewolf paranormal romances fall into the trap of reinforcing ideologies both of male dominance and of human beings as reduced to their biology. But Shiver refuses to do that. Stiefvater acknowledges the temptations and pleasures of an instinctual life and intimacy with nature yet, ultimately, she celebrates the human through asserting the distinctive powers of language. It is language that enables free will, creativity, and the possibility of mutual love.

This again is still a draft so it may have its awkward moments.

Download here.

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