Fur, fangs, film & femininity: Priest’s “She-Wolf” explores the cultural history of the female werewolf

A. Quinton — Mar. 28th 2015

Kipling had it right, I think – the female of the species is more deadly than the male. Historically, she’s also maligned, revered, and misunderstood. A new book edited by Dr. Hannah Priest explores these cultural artifacts and more though the perspective of the female werewolf.

Published this spring by Manchester University Press, Priest’s She-wolf: A cultural history of female werewolves is a 240-page collection of essays that range far and wide over topics of fur, femininity, shape-shifting, film, blood and religion. Yes, this is a tome in which a piece on the trials of she-werewolves in early modern French Burgundy can be found alongside an analysis of the roles of female werewolves in Werewolf: The Apocalypse. I know we’re talking academia here, but I don’t think it’s too out of place for me to say I think this is freakin’ rad.

She-wolf explores the cultural history of the female werewolf, from her first appearance in medieval literature to recent incarnations in film, television and popular literature. The book includes contributors from various disciplines, and offers a cross-period, interdisciplinary exploration of a perennially popular cultural production. The book covers material from the Middle Ages to the present day with chapters on folklore, history, witch trials, Victorian literature, young adult literature, film and gaming. Considering issues such as religious and social contexts, colonialism, constructions of racial and gendered identities, corporeality and subjectivity – as well as female body hair, sexuality and violence – She-wolf reveals the varied ways in which the female werewolf is a manifestation of complex cultural anxieties, as well as a site of continued fascination.

She-Wolf is available right now in the UK through Amazon and Blackwell’s, and us North American lycanthro-academics can order it through Amazon for a May 1st release. Congratulations to Hannah on this publication – aside from being a colleague in the world of werewolves, I consider her a good friend, and I’m very much looking forward to reading this book.