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.
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.