What does the werewolf mean to us? Are werewolves actually monsters to fear? From Lycaon to Bisclavret to Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter series, the werewolf represents different values through the ages. Over the next ten days, Curtis Runstedler will be curating a series on werewolves on the READ Twitter feed, examining the werewolf’s role and meaning in society, and how it is used metaphorically in literature.
My name is Curtis Runstedler, and I am a Ph.D. candidate in Medieval Literature here at Durham University. My research primarily focusses on the moral implications for magic and science in late medieval English poetry and literature, but I am also interested in the role of the werewolf in the medieval romance. For the next ten days, I will be curating a guest series on werewolves for READ on Twitter.
Do you have a favourite werewolf book? What would you do if you discovered a werewolf living in your neighbourhood? bit.ly/1IiwM6M—
Research English Dur (@READEnglish) June 27, 2015
The werewolf has remained a popular figure in the social consciousness, and embodies many different roles throughout history. The werewolf was condemned as a predator and murderous beast in clerical and folkloric writings, used as a metaphor for society in the medieval romance, stigmatised and sensationalised in the Early Modern period, and given new life in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I intend to explore the ways in which the werewolf is represented in society, and the use of the metaphor of the werewolf in literature.
Beginning with the first werewolf story of Lycaon in classical times, we will roam across the ages, focussing on the revision of the werewolf in the medieval romance with Bisclavret, Alphouns, and Gorlagon, before examining the werewolf in Early Modern literature, particularly the quirky case of Peter Stummp and the Beast(s) of the Gévaudan. Finally, we will look at the representations of Remus Lupin and Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter series and reveal how J.K. Rowling provides fresh meaning to the old werewolf. Together, we will revisit the werewolf in literature and shine a light upon the werewolf among us.