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Werewolves and Other Shapeshifters in…

Werewolves and Other Shapeshifters in Popular Culture: A Thematic Analysis…

by Kimberley McMahon-Coleman

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This work aims to examine the shapeshifter trope in pop culture. The main focus is on works from the past twenty years
in the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Historical works are included to provide context.
The book looks at various themes within the shapeshifter/werewolf construct: adolescence, gender politics, sexuality, race and social politics, disability, addiction, and spirituality.
Many excellent works are discussed with extra attention given to those which exist simultaneously as books and other media (television, movies...).

Surprisingly, no mention is made of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series or Kelly Armstrong's Bitten, but to talk about every work involving werewolves or shapeshifters
which has occurred within the past two decades would have made for an unwieldy work at least.

Worth reading for fans of the genre or those with an academic interest.
  dogbear | May 26, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is an analysis of recent books, movies, and television shows portraying werewolf characters. The authors take a sampling from many selections, delving into various studies such as addiction, sexuality, and religion.

Recomended for those who may have an interest in a new addition to their lycanthropic library collection. It may not be fulfilling for those with a casual interest in werewolf literature. ( )
  taisiia | Apr 6, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was very excited about reading this book when I recieved it, because I have always been a big fan of werewolf movies, books and folklore. I was disappointed however by the book's focus on teen paranormal romance, pretty much to the exclusion of anything else.
1 vote rlaversa | Nov 20, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
One doesn’t have to walk very far to see the impact of the shapeshifter on popular culture. As the last installment of the Twilight movie series lumbers through cinemas nationwide, it is important to take a step back from the marketing onslaught and Robert Pattison-induced hysterics. Werewolves and Other Shapeshifters in Popular Culture, by Kimberley McMahon-Coleman and Roslyn Weaver, approach the material through thematic analyses. The pair of Australian academics investigate how things like marriage, sexuality, disability, addiction, gender, and spirituality come to play within the novels and films.

The material covered is vast, including the Being Human TV series (UK and US versions), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series and comics), True Blood (books and TV series), Twilight (films and books), and the Vampire Diaries (TV series and books), among others. Included in the analyses are more obscure Australian novels like Jatta by Jenny Hale. For those oversaturated on the Twilight phenomenon, the “Works Cited” list offers some fascinating recommendations.

Werewolves proves its usefulness in its good timing. Coleman and Weaver investigate the numerous pop cultural pieces here, analyzing how specific treatments reflect attitudes of society at large. For those curious as to why Twilight is so huge with teens these days will find the thematic analyses illuminating. Make no mistake, not every TV series, film, or book covered here would fit into the Great Literature category, but it is a wonderful addition to the growing field of reader reception theory. (Similar reader reception studies have been done with romance novel readership.) The book is a handy resource for those interested in understanding pop cultural trends, but who have neither the time nor inclination to read through the primary source material.

The thematic analysis is an advantage but also a liability in Werewolves. The various rubrics (addiction, gender, etc.) put the primary source material through various lenses, all thought provoking. Conversely, the numerous lenses make the analyses thin and superficial. As a theoretical starting point in exploring shapeshifters in popular culture, the approach delivers. Unfortunately, the weakness shows itself most in the section on spirituality, itself a soft, mushy term acting as a catchall for ritual, religion, and cultic social behaviors. This is seen when McMahon-Coleman and Weaver apply Christian symbolism to the Twilight series. While spiritual and ethical issues like sacrifice, eternity, and morality get explored sufficiently, the analysis of spirituality in Twilight would have benefited immensely from a specific reading attuned to the uniqueness of the Mormon faith. The Mormon concept of blood atonement in a vampire novel series would have proved fascinating, along with the Mormon’s specific understanding of links between Native American and Jewish groups. In Mormon theology, Native Americans are descended from the ancient Jewish population. What does this mean in light of Twilight’s Native American shapeshifter characters, especially since those shapeshifters pass on their powers via hereditary transmission?

Werewolves is a great starting point for those interested in the significance of the shapeshifter in popular culture and how it reflects modern mores.

http://driftlessareareview.com/2012/11/20/reviews-in-brief-werewolves-and-other-... ( )
  kswolff | Nov 20, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As with most of the other reviewers, my biggest gripe with the book is the fact that it's focus is almost entirely on YA literature. Since the book originated as a doctoral thesis I also felt like the texts selected were chosen primarily because they helped proved the author's basic thesis. That being said, the book was well written, not overly academic, and made some interesteing analysis. ( )
1 vote bookwormgeek | Oct 17, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786468165, Paperback)

In recent years, shapeshifting characters in literature, film and television have been on the rise. This has followed the increased use of such characters as metaphors, with novelists and critics identifying specific meanings and topics behind them. This book aims to unravel the shapeshifting trope. Rather than pursue a case-based study, the works are grouped around specific themes--adolescence, gender, sexuality, race, disability, addiction, and spirituality--that are explored through the metaphor of shapeshifting. Because of the transformative possibilities of this metaphor and its flexibility, the shapeshifter has the potential to change how we see our world. With coverage of iconic fantasy texts and a focus on current works, the book engages with the shapeshifting figure in popular culture from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:02 -0400)

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