She-Wolf: A Cultural History of Female Werewolves
Happy Werewolf Wednesday, everyone! This week I’m going to talk about a book that significantly influenced by decision to write a werewolf series of my very own: She-Wolf: A Cultural History of Female Werewolves.
Edited by Hannah Priest and published in 2015, this stellar collection of essays and research papers explores the figure of the female werewolf in art, folklore, history, film, literature, and gaming. The book walks you through the very concept of female werewolves, from the historical background of the idea to ancient myths and legends, to modern horror cinema. More than just a list of examples, these essays tackle head on the question of why female werewolves are less prevalent in popular culture than their male counterparts, exploring the challenges the figure of the female werewolf poses: to gender, sexual norms, and the very idea of “humanity”.
When I was first flirting with the idea of writing a book series centered around werewolves, I stumbled upon Priest’s book during a catalog search of my library. I immediately submitted an interlibrary loan request and anxiously awaited the arrival of the tome. Devouring the essays within, I found the seed that would blossom into Hungry is the Night – I wanted not just one, but a whole book full of female werewolves.
I wanted to play with the tropes of monstrous femininity. Of transformation and wildness. Of savagery and maternal instinct. Happily, I think I’ve managed to do just that with Hungry is the Night. But I wouldn’t have gotten close without Priest’s book and the amazing essays inside of it. It opened my eyes to a world of possibilities and anyone who is a werewolf fan would be enriched by reading it!
Is there a certain book or piece of media that changed your idea of what werewolves could be? Something that broadened your understanding of the tropes and story beats we all know so well? Let’s chat about it in the comments!