11. 6. 2014, 5.30pm, Workshop Transgressing Boundaries: On Wolves and Werewolves

Venue: Grant Museum of Zoology, UCL

Human-wolf relationships have evolved throughout history in response to cultural, social, geographic, religious and environmental circumstances. Wolves have been feared and reviled, venerated and preserved, as well as being the subject of folktales, myths, fiction, films and artworks. Indeed humanity’s historic proximity to wolves, and fear of wolf attacks, contributed to the emergence of stories of people becoming-wolf, taking on the feared and beastly characteristics of these creatures in the form of werewolves. However, the proliferation of these tales, and beliefs that some attacks were perpetrated by werewolves, appeared to wane as wolves were gradually eradicated as a pest and a threat. Vehement hunting, trapping and poisoning culminated in this animal being wiped out in the UK and across much of Europe and America, and many species of wolf became listed as endangered.

Yet today, at a time when conservation efforts have resulted in the reintroduction of wolves to American national parks, European wolf populations are becoming reestablished, and conservationists, agriculturists and the general public continue to deliberate the rewilding of wolves in the UK – all amongst much controversy – the werewolf proliferates throughout art and popular culture. Could ambivalent attitudes towards wolves – should we fear them or conserve them, are they a threat or an asset – result in the resurgence of interest in the werewolf?

This interdisciplinary event, organised by Sarah Wade, explores the entanglements of human and animal, wild and domestic, fact and fiction, which might be embodied in both human attitudes towards wolves and the myth of the werewolf.

Participants include: Carys Crossen (literature and pop culture scholar, University of Manchester), Andrew Dodds (artist, London), Garry Marvin (Professor of Human-Animal Studies, University of Roehampton), Caroline Oates (The Folklore Society/The Warburg Institute), Mark Pilkington (Strange Attractor Press) and a show reel of werewolf transformations by Stephanie Scaife (film writer and blogger at Brutal as Hell, London)