Saturday, August 22, 2015
noun ly·can·thro·py \lī-ˈkan(t)-thrə-pē\
1: a delusion that one has become a wolf
2: the assumption of the form and characteristics of a wolf held to be possible by witchcraft or magic
Werewolves have permeated pop culture for centuries, including heavily influencing Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula. In fact, the term lycanthropy was coined in the 16th century. According to BBC, next month for three days starting on September 3, an actual conference devoted to the lore and lure of the werewolf will take place at the University of Hertfordshire, thanks to organizers, The Company of Wolves.
Experts in the field will gather for lectures that include such topics as; Rabid Bitches and Fanged Whores, I'm Hairy on the Inside and Barebacking Werewolves in Rural America. Sign me up! Better yet? Conference attendees "will be able to walk with (real) wolves, eat Red Riding Hood biscuits and picnic beside the Berkhamsted churchyard where the 18th Century remains of 'Peter the Wildboy' lie."
The organizers take this subject very seriously and relay why this is an important event. According to Dr. Sam George, "People have been fascinated by human-to-wolf transformations down the years, especially in film. Many remember Lon Chaney in Wolf Man or the cult classic An American Werewolf in London, which brought werewolves to contemporary audiences. But how many people actually know the different ways that you can become a werewolf according to folklore or that there were actually werewolf trials in France and Germany where people were hanged and found guilty of lycanthropy? At the conference we want to draw attention to these little-known facts and discuss the werewolf in all its many manifestations and cultural meanings."
A doctoral student studying the literary werewolf by the name of Kaja Franck goes on to mention how the "demonisation of wolves probably started with farming in the Middle Ages, when wolves preyed on livestock." She also makes the fascinating connection to sexuality and says that werewolves are typically males, "The story of Little Red Riding Hood is really a warning to girls about predatory males who seem nice and charming but are, in fact, far from it. They are dangerous."
It is also an issue of transition, "One of the key questions here is what monsters tell us about ourselves, what it is to be human. The reason I think werewolves and monsters stay so interesting is that we have always been interested in things that scare us and, as we get increasingly secular, sometimes the easiest ways to this is through non-existent creatures. The werewolf can be adapted in many different ways, it is ripe for being transformed. We have good werewolves, bad werewolves, conservative werewolves, female werewolves, teenage werewolves and so on. Ultimately, we are interested in the dark side and we use fear as a way of breaking down barriers and thinking about what it is to be human in a safe arena."
For more info on the hairy monsters, check out our own Aaron Sagers' piece, "Werewolf Bites: 32 Things You Didn't Know About The Hairy Beasts" and let us know some of your favorite werewolf films/TV shows. Click here for more detailed info on next month's conference.