Locating the Gothic Conference and Werewolves

Late last month, OGOM posted about Locating the Gothic which is taking place in Limerick next week. This is one of many Gothic conferences that embraces the idea of Gothic geographies and spaces. (Something which makes me very pleased because it suggests that my theoretical approach to the werewolf is not only valid but popular. Honestly, this PhD has made me very superstitious).

I was lucky enough to be chosen to present at Locating the Gothic. Having never visited Limerick – conferences are a great excuse to travel! – hopefully I can mix business with pleasure.

My paper is entitled: “They Shoot Wolves Don’t They?”: Werewolves, Natural Boundaries, and Containing the Gothic; and the abstract is as follows:

“In November 2013, three wolves were shot dead having escaped from Colchester Zoo. Whilst debates regarding ‘rewilding’ the British countryside by reintroducing these animals show how little our attitude towards them has changed. Wolves remain the heretic, the outsider, and the threat represented by nature. These ideas culminate in the figure of the werewolf: a creature who has evolved from demonic fact to Gothic fiction. From ‘Little, Red Riding Hood’ to An American Werewolf in London, the figure of the werewolf has stimulated questions regarding the boundaries of the Gothic natural world and rational spaces of civilisation.

In Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy lycanthropic spaces are demarcated through the use of nature reserves which are notionally used to offer protection for the humans outside and the animals within but now symbolise humanity’s attempts to contain monstrous nature. This paper looks to explore how Stiefvater’s work draws on the tropes of fairy tales and the supernatural to explore Gothic spaces positing a framework that de-constructs human/ animal relations. When human protagonists, whose liminality is embodied in their adolescence, challenge these boundaries by engaging with the animal within, the response by the adult world is violence towards the (were)wolves. However, by prioritizing the human aspect of the werewolf over its wolfish side Stiefvater’s text fails to fully engage with ecological debates surrounding human/ animal relations. Her naturalistic approach to the werewolf and use of scientific discourse in explaining the phenomenon undercuts the potential within the text to offer a supernatural space for the wolf to speak. Once again, the wolf remains at the margins of the Gothic text.”

Once I’m all done and dusted, I will post my review of the conference on the blog.

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0 Responses to Locating the Gothic Conference and Werewolves

  1. Sounds brilliant, Kaja–very stimulating. I can’t wait to read it. I’m sure it will be enthusiastically received, too. And a different perspective from what I’ll be saying about Shiver–if I ever get it written!

  2. firekrank says:

    Thank you! I am hoping that it will be. Looking forward to reading your chapter as well – I am sure you will get it finished in plenty of time. Will be nice to be rid of these deadlines for a while!

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