In view of the current rhetoric surrounding the global migrant crisis - with politicians comparing refugees with animals and media reports warning of migrants swarming like insects or trespassing like wolves - this timely study explores the cultural origins of the language and imagery of dehumanization.
Situated at the junction of literature, politics, and ecocriticism, Wolves at the Door traces the history of the wolf metaphor in discussions of race, gender, colonialism, fascism, and ecology. How have 'Gypsies', Jews, Native Americans but also 'wayward' women been 'wolfed' in literature and politics? How has the wolf myth been exploited by Hitler, Mussolini and Turkish ultra-nationalism? How do right-wing politicians today exploit the reappearance of wolves in Central Europe in the context of the migration discourse? And while their reintroduction in places like Yellowstone has fuelled heated debates, what is the wolf's role in ecological rewilding and for the restoration of biodiversity?
In today's fraught political climate, Wolves at the Door alerts readers to the links between stereotypical images, their cultural history, and their political consequences. It raises awareness about xenophobia and the dangers of nationalist idolatry, but also highlights how literature and the visual arts employ the wolf myth for alternative messages of tolerance and cultural diversity.
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Peter Arnds is a Fellow and the Director of the Comparative Literature programme at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Elected into the Academia Europaea in 2018, he has published books on Günter Grass, Dickens, Lycanthropy, Holocaust Literature and is the author of Searching for Alice (2019). His literary translation of P. Bolthauser's 'Rapids' was longlisted for the 2016 IMPAC Prize.
1. Introduction. Wolf in the Sanctuary: Myth, Literature, Biopolitics
2. Fear of the Pack: Jews and Gypsies as Wolves
3. Wolves and the Indigenous: Migration of a Metaphor to the Colonies
4. Wolves and Wayward Women: Between Condemnation and Empowerment
5. The Wolves of War: Fascism, Terrorism, Resistance
6. No Trespassing: Wolves, Borders and Immigrants
7. Wolf Trails: Re-wilding the World in the Age of Migration
Epilogue. Dreaming of Wolves: The Children of Lycaon in the Age of Psychoanalysis
Arnds' fascinating book delves into the unsettling nexus of migration, biopolitics and discursive myth-making. He explores the enduring presence of an image turned metaphor that resurfaces in multiple narratives of hatred, oppression and discrimination. His scholarly prose is both knowledgeable and deeply committed. * Galin Tihanov, George Steiner Professor of Comparative Literature, Queen Mary University of London, UK * This fascinating, wide-ranging study explores the complex relationship between humans and wolves from ancient times to the present day, showing how the image of the untameable wolf has been appropriated for different ideological purposes. Wolves may be feared by some, occasionally even pitied, but for others they hold a darker symbolic meaning of absolute power. This book invites readers to think again about the significance of wolves in Western cultural history. * Susan Bassnett, Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Glasgow, UK * This is a book that casts new light on the discussion of the migrant and refugee crisis, and will be of widespread interest well beyond academic circles. Its interdisciplinary character at the intersection of world literature and ecocriticism, but also political and cultural theory, philosophy, and psychology will guarantee its widespread reception. It is comprehensive in its coverage of the various corners of the globe where wolves are part of the cultural consciousness. * Tabish Khair, critic, novelist, and professor at Aarhus University, Denmark * Arnds is one of those rare scholars who can write a readerly text. In the present context of heightened nationalist tensions, he analyses how wolf myths are enacted across a wide range of contemporary political landscapes where mythical stories, folklore and imagery are used by political movements to strengthen populist, tribal and nationalist sentiments and to dehumanize and scapegoat minority groups. This is cultural studies at its best in the fluidity with which it moves across history, from high to popular culture, and from close reading to insightful political analysis. A tour de force. * Jennifer Rutherford, Professor Sociology and Literature, Adelaide University, Australia *
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