The metafictional meanings of lycanthropic transformations in Doctor Who
Given the intertextual tendencies of the franchise, it is perhaps surprising to find that, applying a narrow definition, the werewolf has featured only twice in the BBC television series Doctor Who: once in the form of the punk shapeshifter Mags in ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’ (1988–9), then again in that of the foundling host of ‘Tooth and Claw’ (2006). If, however, the genus is approached in a more inclusive spirit, these examples are soon joined by other contenders: the Primords of ‘Inferno’ (1970), for instance, and the Lukoser from the ‘Mindwarp’ episodes of The Trial of a Time Lord (1986). Looking beyond televised stories to the novels published by Virgin and the BBC, the audio dramas produced by Big Finish and comic strips featured in the Doctor Who magazines, it becomes clear that the Whovian werewolf pack is much bigger than it first appears. In exploring some of the ways in which the folkloric hybrid has been adapted to the mythos of Doctor Who at various times and in multiple formats through a period of more than half a century, this chapter is able to comment on the wider cultural adaptability and significance of the werewolf and its primal cousins.
The book explores crucial questions concerning human social existence and its animal substrate, and the intersection between the human and the wolfishly bestial. The collection connects together innovative research on the cultural significance of wolves, wild children and werewolves from a variety of perspectives. We begin with the wolf itself as it has been interpreted as a cultural symbol and how it figures in contemporary debates about human existence, wilderness and nature. Alongside this, we consider eighteenth-century debates about wild children – often thought to have been raised by wolves and other animals – and their role in key questions about the origins of language and society. The collection continues with analyses of the modern werewolf and its cultural connotations in texts from nineteenth-century Gothic through early cinema to present-day television and Young Adult fiction, concluding with the transitions between animal and human in contemporary art, poetry and fashion.
This chapter observes that while several studies of Anglophone Gothic have noted the close connection between Gothic and imperialism, very little of the scholarship that exists on Nordic Gothic has considered this dimension. This should be attributed not only to the general reluctance by scholarship to look beyond Anglophone Gothic, but also to the widespread belief that the Nordic countries remained outside the nineteenth-century colonial project. Referring to several studies that show that the Nordic nations were, in fact, eager participants in the colonial project, the chapter then discusses a number of late twentieth and early twenty-first century Nordic Gothic texts, with a focus on the fiction of Peter Høeg, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Anders Fager, and on the Swedish-French television series Idjabeaivváš (Jour Polaire/Midnight Sun/Midnattssol 2016). These texts are used to argue that Nordic Gothic, sometimes directly and sometimes furtively, addresses colonial concerns and that this tradition shows the same ambivalence towards this colonial past and present as does international Gothic.
Scientific experimentation in George MacDonald’s ‘The History of Photogen and Nycteris’
This chapter examines the implications of theories of Darwinism and degeneration on concepts of child rearing. These theories and concepts are explored in relation to George MacDonald’s short fantasy tale ‘The History of Photogen and Nycteris’. The chapter argues that the tale functions as a conceptual space through which to explore the ramifications of degeneration and evolution as MacDonald understood them. This is achieved by focusing on the child-rearing practices used on two children, Photogen and Nycteris, who are placed within engineered environments to influence their development. The tension between scientific expectations of the children’s behaviours, and their actual behaviour as they engage with the world using their imaginations, provides a basis from which MacDonald critiques scientific approaches to child-rearing.
Maria Holmgren Troy, Johan Höglund, Yvonne Leffler, and Sofia Wijkmark
This chapter introduces and defines the concept of ‘Nordic Gothic’ as fiction produced in the five nation states of Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, and in the regions claimed by these nations. The chapter observes that the geographical and linguistic borders that these states denote have changed greatly during the past 200 years, and that this has been important to the rise of Gothic. The introduction furthermore notes that, since the 1990s, there has been a significant Gothic boom across several media in the Nordic region. It is argued that this boom needs to be understood both in its relation to other regional contexts and in relation to the concept of Nordic Noir. Finally, the introduction describes some of the work that has been done on Nordic Gothic and provides the reader with an outline of the chapters that follow.
This chapter investigates the two most influential examples of contemporary Nordic Gothic, Lars von Trier’s TV series Riget and John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel Låt den rätte komma in and its Swedish film adaptation together with the American adaptations of these Nordic works: Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital (ABC 2004) and Matt Reeves’ Let Me In (2010). The chapter first briefly discusses Gothic TV and TV horror and outlines how von Trier, King and Lindqvist have moved between different media. It then goes on to examine some differences between the Nordic and American productions that are related to Gothic humour. In terms of setting, the American adaptations are placed in small American towns rather than the central locations constituted by the Danish capital in Riget and the Stockholm suburb in Låt den rätte komma in. Whereas the American adaptations thus pertain to King’s brand of small-town American Gothic, the Nordic works can be seen as a kind of urban Gothic. The settings, the chapter suggests, also make visible ideological differences between the Nordic Gothic works and the American adaptations.
Wolves have always generated strong emotions of admiration and fear in people. For some they are revered as powerful hunters while they are reviled by others as intruding and unwanted predators. A general theme in this chapter is that the behaviour of wolves, particularly their hunting and predation, is not simply regarded as a natural and necessary part of their social ecology, but it is construed, and differently perceived, by different groups of people, as a moral ecology, and the human judgements of that ecology construct wolves. A specific theme in the chapter will be how the werewolf emerged, and was given shape, from concerns about wolves themselves.
Wagner the Wehr-wolf, Sweeney Todd and the limits of human responsibility
This chapter explores the relationship between early nineteenth-century werewolf fiction and the changing legal codes that governed the circumstances under which a criminal might be found ‘not guilty by virtue of insanity’. Before the institution of the McNaghten rules, criminal responsibility could be evaded only if the criminal ‘doth not know what he is doing, no more than an infant, than a brute or a wild beast’. This chapter argues that the werewolves that appear in the fiction of the period, who are often outlaws or madmen or both, function as symbolic representations of the pre-McNaghten criminal lunatic whose threatening otherness is manifested in their bestial nature, and whose proper home is in the forested wilderness. The serial killers of the early penny bloods, conversely, speak to the new anxieties created by the post-McNaghten popularisation of notions of ‘moral insanity’, according to which the criminal lunatic may look and behave exactly like everyone else, enabling them to prey with impunity upon the inhabitants of the new cities of the 1830s and 1840s.
Nordic Gothic traces Gothic fiction in the Nordic region from its beginnings in the nineteenth century with a main focus on the development of Gothic from the 1990s onwards in literature, film, TV series and new media. The volume gives an overview of Nordic Gothic fiction in relation to transnational developments and provides a number of case studies and in-depth analyses of individual narratives. The book creates an understanding of a ubiquitous but hitherto under-researched cultural phenomenon by showing how the Gothic narratives make visible cultural anxieties haunting the Nordic countries and their welfare systems, and how central these anxieties are for the understanding of identities and ideologies in the Nordic region. It examines how figures from Nordic folklore and mythology function as metaphorical expressions of Gothic themes, and also how universal Gothic figures such as vampires and witches are used in the Nordic context. The Nordic settings, and especially the Nordic wilderness, are explored from perspectives such as ecocriticism and postcolonialism and subcategories such as Gothic crime, Gothic humour, troll Gothic and geriatric Gothic are defined and discussed. Furthermore, the phenomenon of transcultural adaptation is investigated, using the cases of Lars von Trier’s Riget and John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Låt den rätte komma in, two seminal works of contemporary Nordic Gothic.