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The Monster Theory Reader

2019

Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, Editor

The Monster Theory Reader

A collection of scholarship on monsters and their meaning—across genres, disciplines, methodologies, and time—from foundational texts to the most recent contributions

And as long as there have been monsters, there have been attempts to make sense of them, to explain where they come from and what they mean. This book collects the best of what contemporary scholars have to say on the subject, in the process creating a map of the monstrous across the vast and complex terrain of the human psyche.

Zombies and vampires, banshees and basilisks, demons and wendigos, goblins, gorgons, golems, and ghosts. From the mythical monstrous races of the ancient world to the murderous cyborgs of our day, monsters have haunted the human imagination, giving shape to the fears and desires of their time. And as long as there have been monsters, there have been attempts to make sense of them, to explain where they come from and what they mean. This book collects the best of what contemporary scholars have to say on the subject, in the process creating a map of the monstrous across the vast and complex terrain of the human psyche.

 

Editor Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock prepares the way with a genealogy of monster theory, traveling from the earliest explanations of monsters through psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and cultural studies, to the development of monster theory per se—and including Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s foundational essay “Monster Theory (Seven Theses),” reproduced here in its entirety. There follow sections devoted to the terminology and concepts used in talking about monstrosity; the relevance of race, religion, gender, class, sexuality, and physical appearance; the application of monster theory to contemporary cultural concerns such as ecology, religion, and terrorism; and finally the possibilities monsters present for envisioning a different future.

 

Including the most interesting and important proponents of monster theory and its progenitors, from Sigmund Freud to Julia Kristeva to J. Halberstam, Donna Haraway, Barbara Creed, and Stephen T. Asma—as well as harder-to-find contributions such as Robin Wood’s and Masahiro Mori’s—this is the most extensive and comprehensive collection of scholarship on monsters and monstrosity across disciplines and methods ever to be assembled and will serve as an invaluable resource for students of the uncanny in all its guises.

 

Contributors: Stephen T. Asma, Columbia College Chicago; Timothy K. Beal, Case Western Reserve U; Harry Benshoff, U of North Texas; Bettina Bildhauer, U of St. Andrews; Noel Carroll, The Graduate Center, CUNY; Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Arizona State U; Barbara Creed, U of Melbourne; Michael Dylan Foster, UC Davis; Sigmund Freud; Elizabeth Grosz, Duke U; J. Halberstam, Columbia U; Donna Haraway, UC Santa Cruz; Julia Kristeva, Paris Diderot U; Anthony Lioi, The Julliard School; Patricia MacCormack, Anglia Ruskin U; Masahiro Mori; Annalee Newitz; Jasbir K. Puar, Rutgers U; Amit A. Rai, Queen Mary U of London; Margrit Shildrick, Stockholm U; Jon Stratton, U of South Australia; Erin Suzuki, UC San Diego; Robin Wood, York U; Alexa Wright, U of Westminster.

The Monster Theory Reader

Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock is professor of English at Central Michigan University and associate editor for Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. He is the author or editor of twenty-one books, most recently The Age of Lovecraft (Minnesota, 2016); Goth Music: From Sound to Subculture; Return to Twin Peaks: New Approaches to Materiality, Theory, and Genre on Television; and the award-winning Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters.

The Monster Theory Reader

Contents



Acknowledgments



Introduction: A Genealogy of Monster Theory


Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock



1. Monster Culture (Seven Theses)


Jeffrey Jerome Cohen



Part I. The Monster Theory Toolbox



2. The Uncanny


Sigmund Freud



3. The Uncanny Valley


Masahiro Mori



4. Approaching Abjection


Julia Kristeva



5. An Introduction to the American Horror Film


Robin Wood



6. Fantastic Biologies and the Structures of Horrific Imagery


Noël Carroll



7. Parasites and Perverts: An Introduction to Gothic Monstrosity


Jack Halberstam



Part II. Monsterizing Difference



8. Monstrous Strangers at the Edge of the World: The Monstrous Races


Alexa Wright



9. Blood, Jews, and Monsters in Medieval Culture


Bettina Bildhauer



10. Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine: An Imaginary Abjection


Barbara Creed



11. The Monster and the Homosexual


Harry Benshoff



12. The Undead: A Haunted Whiteness


Annalee Newitz



13. Intolerable Ambiguity: Freak as/at the Limit


Elizabeth Grosz



Part III. Monsters and Culture



14. Monsters and the Moral Imagination


Stephen T. Asma



15. Introduction to Religion and Its Monsters


Timothy Beal



16. The Self’s Clean and Proper Body


Margrit Shildrick



17. Haunting Modernity: Tanuki, Trains, and Transformation in Japan


Michael Dylan Foster



18. Invisible Monsters: Vision, Horror, and Contemporary Culture


Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock



19. Monster, Terrorist, Fag: The War on Terrorism and the Production of Docile Patriots


Jasbir K. Puar and Amit S. Rai



20. Zombie Trouble: Zombie Texts, Bare Life, and Displaced People


Jon Stratton



Part IV. The Promises of Monsters



21. Beasts from the Deep


Erin Suzuki



22. Of Swamp Dragons: Mud, Megalopolis, and a Future for Ecocriticism


Anthony Lioi



23. The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others


Donna Haraway



24. Posthuman Teratology


Patricia MacCormack



Previous Publications


Contributors


Index