Consider the Werewolf: A History and Defense of a Necessary Monster

loup-garouAn illustrated lecture by Stephen Aubrey
Date: Sunday, August 15
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by The Hollow Earth Society

“In days gone by one could hear tell, and indeed it often used to happen, that many men turned into werewolves and went to live in the woods. A werewolf is a ferocious beast which, when possessed by this madness, devours men, causes great damage, and dwells in vast forests.” —Bisclavret, Marie de France.

Were the werewolf truly the savage beast described above, perhaps we could justify its treatment throughout history, the ways in which it has been feared and hunted, with silver bullets and other fantastic weaponry, for centuries.

But the werewolf has not always been the monstrous beast we make it out to be. For every savage Lycaon or menacing Wolfman, there has been a noble Bisclavret or a gentle Jacob (yes, we’re talking about Twilight here).

More often than not, the werewolf is a being of negative space, a monster occupying the liminal zone between cultural hegemony and the pressures exerted by the different relations within a culture.

By understanding the role of the werewolf in history—the ways it has adapted to consistently reflect the fears and anxieties of Western society—we can understand the limits of our society, the ways we are still beasts today and how we define our own humanity.

Stephen Aubrey is a recovering medievalist. He used to be a public intellectual for the (very small) progressive faction of the Roman Catholic Church but is currently a writer living in Brooklyn. His writing has appeared in Commonweal, The Brooklyn Review and The Outlet; his plays have been produced at The Ontological-Hysteric Theatre, The Flea Theater, The Brick, UNDER St. Marks, The Bowery Poetry Club and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where he was nominated for a Fringe First Award. He is the editor of the Suspicious Anatomy series published by the Hollow Earth Society’s Medical Symporium and an instructor of English at Brooklyn College.

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