A wolf's howl is felt in the body. Frightening and compelling, incomprehensible or entirely knowable, it is a sound that may be heard as threat or invitation but leaves no listener unaffected.
Toothsome fiends, interfering pests, or creatures wild and free, wolves have been at the heart of Canada's national story since long before Confederation. Villain, Vermin, Icon, Kin contends that the role in which wolves have been cast – monster or hero – has changed dramatically through time. Exploring the social history of wolves in Canada, Stephanie Rutherford weaves an innovative tapestry from the varied threads of historical and contemporary texts, ideas, and practices in human-wolf relations, from provincial bounties to Farley Mowat's iconic Never Cry Wolf. These examples reveal that Canada was made, in part, through relationships with nonhuman animals.
Wolves have always captured the human imagination. In sketching out the connections people have had with wolves at different times, Villain, Vermin, Icon, Kin offers a model for more ethical ways of interacting with animals in the face of a global biodiversity crisis.
Part One Villains and Vermin
1 Fear: Settler Encounters with Wildness Out of Place 23
2 Disgust: Bounties and Bureaucracies of Extermination 45
Part Two Recuperating the Wolf
3 Passion: Writing the Wolf in Canadian Literature 83
4 Curiosity: The Scientific Reimagining of a Predator 109
5 Devotion: Wolf Love in Modern Times 128
Part Three Knowing the Wolf
6 Ambivalence: Dwelling in Multispecies Assemblages 149
7 Empathy: Indigenous Teachings Offer a Way Out (and In) 167
Epilogue: The Hazards of a Symbol 182
Stephanie Rutherford is an associate professor in the School of the Environment at Trent University.
"This is the best book on wildlife I've read in years, one I've long-wished existed. With eloquence, sophistication, and rigorous research Stephanie Rutherford provides insights into the changing nature of human-nonhuman relations, and the mutual constitution of these relations and the national imagination."
– Rosemary Collard, Simon Fraser University
"Villain, Vermin, Icon, Kin is beautifully written, a rare mixture of critical theory, empirical detail, and narrative sophistication. Rutherford shows a genuine commitment to critical inquiry and makes a powerful case for re-envisioning our relations to the natural world alongside the dynamics of settler colonialism. This book is wonderful and will surely be an important contribution to a number of fields."
– Jonathan Peyton, University of Manitoba