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The Phallus or the Cane? Re-reading the monstrous in Teen Wolf through disability and queer theory
Presented by Tania Evans as part of the Literary Studies Seminar Series
The growing body of academic scholarship on werewolves has often focused upon gender but rarely has it considered how sexuality and disability are reflected in lycanthropic narratives. Yet the werewolf can be read through these lenses, since it often disrupts normative ideas about the gendered body. These challenges to compulsory able-bodiedness and heterosexuality are the focus of this paper, which analyses MTV’s young adult television series Teen Wolf using disability studies and queer theory. I argue that while the intersection of disability and queerness is integral to the series’ construction of monstrosity, it is also is where the series is most progressive—and subversive. The queer re-reading in this paper is enabled through Marjorie Garber’s work on transvestites, specifically her concept of the detachable phallus. By analysing the monstrous disabled characters in Teen Wolf in terms of how their prostheses signify both their disabilities and their sexual agency, I demonstrate how the series contests heteronormative logic when queerness and disability entwine. Given the series’ popularity among young audiences who are negotiating their own transformation into adulthood, Teen Wolf may invite viewers to recognise that neither sexuality nor ability can be contained within a binary and that variance is not only possible but valuable.
Tania Evans is a final year PhD candidate in SLLL. Her doctoral project investigates the textual construction of masculinities in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and its television adaptation Game of Thrones. Her work has been published in Gothic Studies and Masculinities, and will appear in the edited collection Exploring Teen Wolf (McFarland Press).Check back soon for more details.