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The sound of the cinematic werewolf

The aim of this chapter is to consider the role that sound plays in the construction of the Gothic and horror genres, in particular through the soundscape of the werewolf film. Whilst there is a growing body of work on music in relation to horror and the Gothic, sound still remains a too-often overlooked area of film aesthetics. I therefore focus my discussion on the sound effects of animality and wildness within these films, particularly the snarls, growls and howls of the wolf and the sound of bodily transformation, alongside the musical scores that accompany the werewolf. In particular, a close analysis of Universal’s first werewolf film, Werewolf of London (1935), and John Landis’s re-imagining of the werewolf in An American Werewolf in London (1981) will examine how the werewolf draws upon a tension embedded within the sound of the wolf that causes it to embody both horror and melancholy while also blurring the lines between animal and human. This duality, from the werewolf’s earliest appearance through to its modern incarnations, complicates the audience’s relationship to horror and the monster within the genre, thus highlighting kinship rather than difference between classic and modern approaches to cinematic horror.

in In the company of wolves
Young Adult literature and the metaphorical wolf

Twentieth-century werewolves, with their monthly transformations, violent outbursts and sudden sprouting of hair, have become a ready metaphor for adolescence in popular culture. Teen Wolf (Rod Daniel, 1985) encapsulates the connection between teenager and lycanthrope. Concentrating on Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy (2009–2011) and Annette Curtis Klaus’s Blood and Chocolate (1997), this chapter uncovers the assumption at the core of this metaphor: that teenagers, like werewolves, are animalistic and, moreover, that the wolf is lesser to the ‘were’. Thus, to use the language of the Gothic, both werewolves and adolescents are made liminal in this structure. By looking at the teenage werewolf from the point of view of the wolf, the author looks to address the lower status of the animal and return the wolf’s voice.

in In the company of wolves
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.

in In the company of wolves
Werewolves, wolves and wild children
Editors: Sam George and Bill Hughes

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.

Nordic Gothic and colonialism

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.

in Nordic Gothic
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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.

in In the company of wolves
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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.

in Nordic Gothic
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From preternatural pastoral to paranormal romance
in In the company of wolves
Nordic Gothic and transcultural adaptation

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.

in Nordic Gothic
Wolf behaviour becoming wolfish nature

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.

in In the company of wolves