Disgust and Desire

The Paradox of the Monster


Monsters have taken many forms across time and cultures, yet within these variations, monsters often evoke the same paradoxical response: disgust and desire. We simultaneously fear monsters and take pleasure in seeing them, and their role in human culture helps to explain this apparent contradiction. Monsters are created in order to delineate where the acceptable boundaries of action and emotion exist. However, while killing the monster allows us to cast out socially unacceptable desires, the prevalence of monsters in both history and fiction reveals humanity’s desire to see and experience the forbidden. We seek, write about, and display monsters as both a warning and wish fulfilment, and monsters, therefore, reveal that the line between desire and disgust is often thin. Looking across genres, subjects, and periods, this book examines what our conflicted reaction to the monster tells us about human culture.

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Kristen Wright is a PhD Candidate at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Her research interests include Renaissance drama and poetry, monsters, folklore, and travel literature.
IntroductionKristen D. Wright

Part I: Searching for Monsters

 How Ignorance Made a Monster, Or: Writing the History of Vlad the Impaler without the Use of Sources Leads to 20,000 Impaled Turks  Peter Mario Kreuter  Unveiling the Truth through Testimony: The Argentinean Dirty War  Adriana Spahr  Fanatics and Absolutists: Communist Monsters in John le Carré’s Cold War Fiction  Toby Manning

Part II: Desiring the Monstrous

 Queer Race Play: Kinky Sex and the Trauma of Racism  Dejan Kuzmanovic  Absolute Beasts? Social Mechanics of Achieved Monstrosity  William Redwood

Part III: Writing Monsters

 Utopian Leprosy: Transforming Gender in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and History in the Strugatsky Brothers’ The Ugly SwansElsa Bouet  Monstrosity and the Fantastic: The Threats and Promises of Monsters in Tommaso Landolfi’s Fiction  Irene Bulla

Part IV: Gazing at Monsters

 ‘This Thing of Darkness I Acknowledge Mine’: Man's Monstrous Potential in The Tempest and TitusAndronicus Kristen D. Wright  Paedophilic Productions and Gothic Performances: Contending with Monstrous Identity  Jen Baker  Creeper Bogeyman: Cultural Narratives of Gay as Monstrous  Sergio Fernando Juárez  Full Metal Abs: The Obscene Spartan Supplement of Liberal Democracy  Carlo Comanducci
Academic libraries, artists, students, specialists and all those that are interested in the phenomenon of monsters in society.
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