Trials of she-werewolves in early modern French Burgundy
This chapter provides an analysis of the early modern Burgundian werewolf trials. It focuses on contemporaneous ecclesiastical and political circumstance to explain the relative frequency with which female werewolves were accused and tried in this particular area of France. The brutal killing of Perrenette Gandillon as a supposed she-werewolf is indicative of the atmosphere in the mountains of Franche-Comté, a territory in Burgundy, France. The werewolf panics and the comparatively large numbers of werewolf trials in Franche-Comté represent a relatively unique phenomenon in Europe, with the exception of Latvia and Estonia. The werewolf trials began in 1521, with the death sentences for heresy pronounced by the Inquisition courts, and ended in 1663 with acquittals before secular courts. The concept of the werewolf nevertheless remained particularly alive in the inaccessible regions of the Jura, where several cases of alleged lycanthropy came before the courts.
This book explores the cultural history of the female werewolf, from her first appearance in medieval literature to recent incarnations in film, television and popular literature. It focuses on folkloric records of the island of Saaremaa, Estonia, a territory in which, unusually, there are more folktales of female werewolves than male. The book also explores tropes and strategies of feminisation evident in Werewolf: The Apocalypse to reveal an almost unique disavowal of the masculine werewolf in favour of traditions of presenting the female werewolf. The examination of Honoré Beaugrand's 'The Werewolves' offers fruitful discussion of the female werewolf's integration into colonial discourse and narrative. In the nineteenth century, at the fin de siècle, female authors began to produce fiction about the female werewolf. Two of the most interesting examples of this, which have been curiously neglected by critics, are Clemence Housman's novella The Werewolf and Rosamund Marriott Watson's poem 'A Ballad of the Were-wolf', written under the pseudonym Graham R. Tomson and published in 1891. Then, the book examines twenty-first-century young adult paranormal romance texts, considering the ways in which such texts associate lycanthropy with contemporary idealisations and constructions of the post-adolescent female. It explores presentations of body-centred violence in film, drawing parallels between female werewolves and other violent females in horror cinema. Finally, the book also examines cinematic representations of the femme animale with an exploration of how this conceptualisation of the feminine might inform a reading of Ginger Snaps.
This chapter identifies some of the cinematic strategies for the visual presentation of the female werewolf. It considers the issue of female violence as it relates to this particular horror monster in terms both of agency and of representation. The chapter focuses on some basic, even mundane, questions that often get overlooked in more straightforwardly ideological analysis, namely 'what does a female werewolf look like?' and 'what does it do?' It is the chapter's contention that a film's posing of, and attempts to answer, such questions informs and shapes both narration and style, and an appreciation of such elements can feed back into and ultimately bring nuance to more ideology-based readings. Horror cinema's female werewolf emerges from this as both more complex and more variegated in her various manifestations than has sometimes been allowed by horror criticism.
Potency and degeneracy in Blake’s Visions and James Graham’s celestial bed
Drawing parallels between Oothoon and James Graham, a sex therapist contemporary with Blake, Tristanne Connolly reimagines the sexual dynamics in Visions: Bromion’s violence does less to blunt than to sharpen Oothoon’s own sexual desire, which she proceeds to impose upon Theotormon, whom it is possible to read as not only another victim of Bromion’s ‘thunders’ but as an emasculated Onanist perceived by Oothoon—in an echo of Graham—as sexually deviant and self-polluting for his rejection of all alloerotic stimulation. Oothoon is a hybrid of Sade’s Justine and Juliette: she is a victim of sexualised violence but also sexually aggressive in her own way. Connolly’s paper productively complicates what has too often been a simplistic understanding of Oothoon as a mere victim, a reading that founders when we attempt to square it with her Grahamian promotion of sexual union and notorious offer to procure women for Theotormon. In this way, Oothoon moves past the typical categories available to women in the Gothic—either angel or monster, either virginal victim or wicked whore.
Conflict between societal expectations and individual desires in Clemence Housman’s The Werewolf and Rosamund Marriott Watson’s ‘A Ballad of the Were-wolf’
The nineteenth century was a significant one in terms of the figure of the female werewolf. In the nineteenth century, at the fin de siècle, female authors began to produce fiction about the female werewolf. Two of the most interesting examples of this, which have been curiously neglected by critics, are Clemence Housman's novella The Werewolf and Rosamund Marriott Watson's poem 'A Ballad of the Were-wolf'. The female werewolf's potential for subversion of societal norms and expectations in any era is considerable, and the female lycanthrope was put to excellent use in this regard by the Victorian authors. The choice of the werewolf in itself could be interpreted as an effort to subvert masculine literary history, given that for thousands of years the female werewolf was non-existent in written fiction.
The Gothic is haunted by the ghost of William Blake. Scholars of the Gothic have long recognised Blake’s affinity with the genre, often invoking his name, characters, and images in passing. Yet, to date, no major scholarly study focused on Blake’s intersection with the Gothic exists. William Blake’s gothic imagination seeks to redress this disconnect and, in the words of another ghost, to lend a serious hearing to a dimension of Blake’s work we all somehow know to be vital and yet remains understudied. The essays here collected do not simply identify Blake’s Gothic conventions but, thanks to recent scholarship on affect, psychology, and embodiment in Gothic studies, reach deeper into the tissue of anxieties that take confused form through this notoriously nebulous historical, aesthetic, and narrative mode. The collection opens with papers touching on literary form, history, lineation, and narrative in Blake’s work, establishing contact with major topics in Gothic studies. The volume, however, eventually narrows its focus to Blake’s bloody, nervous bodies, through which he explores various kinds of Gothic horror related to reproduction, anatomy, sexuality, affect, and materiality. Rather than his transcendent images, this collection attends to Blake’s ‘dark visions of torment’. Drawing on the recent interest in Gothic studies on visual arts, this volume also highlights Blake’s engravings and paintings, productions that in both style and content suggest a rich, underexplored archive of Gothic invention. This collection will appeal to students of Romanticism, the Gothic, art history, media/mediation studies, popular mythography, and adaptation studies.
Anatomy and the birth of horror in The [First] Book of Urizen
Lucy Cogan suggests that, for Blake, Gothic horror has more to do with putting together than it does taking apart the body. That is, if the experiences of terror and horror central to different forms of the Gothic often involve descriptions of physical torture, in Blake the representation of corporeal distress extends to the process of bodily formation, composition, and birth. Cogan thus reads the physical (de)formation of Urizen in light of William Hunter’s gruesome ‘anatomical obstetrics’, transforming the former into an allegory for Enlightenment scientific methodologies that are more than content to limit sensibility to a ratio of the senses, to murder and then dissect the imagination under the guise of birthing new light. ‘Like a distorted mirror-image of the Enlightenment scientists who used the tools of compass, telescope and microscope to chart the wonders of the universe’, Cogan argues that ‘Urizen by dividing and defining the material universe is also slicing into it, tearing and mutilating the fabric of existence’.
Romances, novels, and the classifications of Irish Romantic fiction
This chapter assesses the terminology applied to literature now considered gothic, looking particularly at the preference for the term ‘romance’ amongst writers of what was then more commonly called ‘terrorist’ or ‘terror’ fiction. In a period of continued debates about the novel and its commitment to didactic realism, these works’ descriptions as ‘romances’ indicates their authors’ desire to appeal to their readers’ imaginations. This recourse to romance or fancy was not simply confined to the depiction of supernatural figures or events as is often understood today. Rather, as the works considered here demonstrate, romance was conceived of in a much broader fashion by eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century writers. This chapter also considers the manner in which scholarly attention to the national tale as the literary form par excellence of Irish Romantic writing suggests clear-cut demarcations of gothic and national literary modes that simply did not exist in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
The cartographic consciousness of Irish gothic fiction
Within criticism of gothic literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a Catholic Continental setting has come to be defined as a near necessity. Such settings are understood to underscore British rationality and modernity by contrasting it with an atavistic Catholicism located safely outside of English – if not British – national borders. Irish gothic literature often follows in this putative pattern, including the Catholic Continent in a geography of terror from which England is notably absent. Yet, it also frequently resists a related tendency manifest in English gothic literature of this period imaginatively to map Ireland and the so-called ‘Celtic Fringe’ alongside France, Spain, and Italy, as a particularly gothic location. This chapter considers several Irish gothic texts that complicate the privileging of Catholic Continental and ‘Celtic Fringe’ settings as well as their use as a tool of British national vindication. It also assesses the privileging of travel in post-Anglo-Irish Union gothic romances concerned, like the contemporary national tale, with the geographical mapping and associated cultural vindication of Ireland.