To say I have had quite a few conversations about wolves over the last two years would be an understatement. My PhD student Kaja, familiar to followers of this blog, researches werewolves and another Matt, has written an entire book on wolves The White Devil so hardly a week goes by without our thinking about them. This week Kaja is away and it is my turn to obsess on all things wolfish whilst preparing a workshop on Maggie Steifvater‘s Shiver for my Generation Dead: YA Fiction and the Gothic class.
The story to begin with is narrated alternatively by Sam (wolf) and Grace (human), blurring the boundaries between human and animal:
Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human…until the cold makes him shift back again.
[Grace was taken by wolves as a child and saved from being killed by the one wolf who protected her]. Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy with a murky past. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human — or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
Researching the novel has led me to recent stories on wolves in the media. I was particularly struck by this account of the last wolf . Wolf folklore would have us believe that this was the last wolf to roam wildly in Great Britain before being shot in the Scottish Highlands in 1680. There is always a mythologising of course. In literature contemporary fictions often turn to the animal, and to transitions between animal and human (particularly the werewolf and kindred figures) to interrogate what is special about our species. In her werewolf paranormal romance, Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater quotes Rilke: ‘even the most clever of animals see that we are not surely at home in our interpreted world’. This raises the kind of questions that inspired our soon to be legendary Company of Wolves conference!!
Lately, this ancient enemy has been rehabilitated and reappraised, and rewilding projects have attempted to admit wolves more closely into our lives. Our company with wolves has inspired fiction from Ovid, through Perrault and the Grimms’ narrators, to Bram Stoker and Kipling; and, more recently, to Angela Carter, Neil Jordan, Anne Rice, Marcus Sedgwick and Glen Duncan.
If you are researching werewolves/wolves and would like to present at the conference the CFP is out until March 30th. This is most definitely the year of the wolf!! Lupine lovers of the world unite…see you in September…..
Topics may include (but are not limited to) the following:
Werewolves, lycanthropy, and shapeshifters
Feral and wild children
Language, culture, and nature
Instinct and agency
Animal studies and humanist perspectives
Phenomenology and the philosophy of language, mind, and body
Animality and sociality from Hobbes through Rousseau to Darwin
Narratives of the Grimms, Perrault, Kipling, Angela Carter, Neil Jordan, Anne Rice, Maggie Stiefvater, Glen Duncan, Marcus Sedgwick
Genre, intertextuality, and narratology
Young Adult and children’s fiction
Urban fantasy and paranormal romance
TV, film, and other media
Folklore and anthropology
Fables, fabliaux, and fantasy
The Gothic, fairy tale, and myth
Sexuality and romance
Species, ‘race’, identity, and taxonomy