2017-2018 Catalog

ENGL 288 English Literature 1660-Present

Monsters and Monstrosity: literature is rife with portraits of monsters and monstrosity. From Homer's The Odyssey and Grimm's fairytales, to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Salman Rushdie's Shame, monsters challenge our everyday ideas about normality. Situated between the animal and the human, monstrous creatures are ciphers for difference that force us to consider what we regard as culturally abject or grotesque, as well as alluring. That these mythical figures continue to fascinate even as they frighten, is suggestive of their symbolic power in embodying both our latent desires and prohibitions. This course will explore the emergence of the monstrous aesthetic across several genres (epic, drama, novel, poetry, film) and periods (Renaissance to contemporary) to probe the shifting terrains of sexual, racial, and cultural otherness that monsters represent. Along the way, we will ask critical questions that arise from the study of monstrosity. What, for instance, separates monsters from humans? How does monstrosity define our notions about beauty and ugliness, desire and disgust? Does the monster appear each time under a different guise? If so, to what extent does it reshape our sensibility about what is socially abnormal? What can monsters teach us about the hopes and apprehensions of the cultures and times to which they belong? Ultimately, we will seek to understand how and why these ferocious figures also elicit sympathy in us toward those markedly unlike ourselves. Our reading list includes works by: Alfred Tennyson, William Blake, R.L. Stevenson, Mary Shelley, Patricia Highsmith, among others.


4 units


Fall CSP seminar

Core Requirements Met

  • Regional Focus