Wolves and the Wolf Myth in American Literature

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The wolf is one of the most widely distributed canid species, historically ranging throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere. For millennia, it has also been one of the most pervasive images in human mythology, art, and psychology. Wolves and the Wolf Myth in American Literature examines the wolf’s importance as a figure in literature from the perspectives of both the animal’s physical reality and the ways in which writers imagine and portray it. Author S. K. Robisch examines more than two hundred texts written in North America about wolves or including them as central figures. From this foundation, he demonstrates the wolf’s role as an archetype in the collective unconscious, its importance in our national culture, and its ecological value. Robisch takes a multidisciplinary approach to his study, employing a broad range of sources: myths and legends from around the world; symbology; classic and popular literature; films; the work of scientists in a number of disciplines; human psychology; and field work conducted by himself and others. By combining the fundamentals of scientific study with close readings of wide-ranging literary texts, Robisch astutely analyzes the correlation between actual, living wolves and their representation on the page and in the human mind. He also considers the relationship between literary art and the natural world, and argues for a new approach to literary study, an ecocriticism that moves beyond anthropocentrism to examine the complicated relationship between humans and nature.

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About the Author:

S. K. (Kip) Robisch is a Assistant Professor of English at The University of Indianapolis, where he teaches creative writing and literature. He has published creative nonfiction, short stories, and scholarship. He works with the Indiana Writers Center as an occasional instructor and gives book talks and facilitates discussions for the Indianapolis/Marion County Public Libraries. He grew up in Vineland, New Jersey, and has lived in Montana and New Mexico for all-too-short periods of time. Among his favorite hiking places in the U.S. are the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park, the three canyons of Bandelier National Monument, and the Black Lake trail of Rocky Mountain National Park.


“Robisch raises ecocriticism to a new level of interdisciplinary rigor and range. His wolf book should become a new model for the study of animals in literature.” -- Glen Love, author of Practical Ecocriticism: Literature, Biology, and the Environment

“This book offers a paradigm of ecocriticism that is based on thorough knowledge of its subject (both the literature and the animal that inspired it), and that draws on science and at every step considers the implications that our stories have on our relationship with the actual world—or in this case, with real wolves.” -- Ian Marshall, author of Peak Experiences: Walking Meditations on Literature, Nature, and Need

"Wolves and the Wolf Myth in American Literature is dense with information, but Robisch is a companionable, disarming, and clear-thinking guide."-- Oregon Historical Quarterly

"S. K. Robisch's work wonderfully confronts wolves in American literature and culture as an ecological reality from which human readers, scholars, and critics simply cannot escape." -- Studies in American Naturalism

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