Inversions of Power and Paradox

Edited by Jonathan A. Allan and Elizabeth E. Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-84888-132-7
File type: eBook: pdf

The essays in this volume, originally presented at the eight annual ‘Monsters and the Monstrous’ conference, deeply explore monstrosity from many different perspectives: social, political, cultural, historical, psychological, and mythological. This rich interdisciplinary approach helps to theorise, historicise, and problematise monstrosity.


This volume contains original essays presented at the 8th annual ‘Monsters and the Monstrous’ conference held at Oxford University, September 2010. The essays, written by scholars from many different disciplines around the world, deeply explore a wide range of concerns, especially topics that theorise, problematise, and historicise monstrosity. The variety of approaches to the monstrous prompts careful examination of conventional assumptions about monstrosity, raising questions that are difficult, necessary, and profound. Like all of the Monsters and the Monstrous gatherings, the essays in this collection ponder such perennial questions as: Does evil exist? How do we define it? In what ways might our definition reflect the social, political, economic, and cultural milieu? Is there any aspect of evil, monsters, or the monstrous that is not socially constructed, that is to say, essential and enduring? We know what does endure: our fascination with monsters and the monstrous, in their many forms, representations, and imaginings. We are preoccupied by monstrosity precisely because of the ways in which we ourselves can become monstrous. Marshall McLuhan once quipped: ‘the story of modern America begins with the discovery of the white man by the Indians.’ In many regards, McLuhan’s quip reminds us of the dangers (and excitement) of studying monstrosity: the power and paradox of inversion. When we consider the phenomenon of monstrosity and invert our terms, we must take seriously the idea that the virgin may be more monstrous than the sexual subject, the pure more monstrous than the soiled, and sanity is more monstrous than genius.

Table of Contents

Jonathan A. Allan and Elizabeth E. Nelson

Part 1: Gender and Monstrosity

Wolfsbane, Fangs and Hirsute Heretics: Tracing the Confluences between Lycanthropy, Witchcraft and Vampirism in the Female Werewolf
Jazmina Cininas

Snakes on a Mane: Medusa, the Body and Serpentine Monstrosity
Melissa La Porte

The Female of the Species: Monstrous Women in Thai Horror Cinema
Milagros Expósito-Barea

Deviant Mothers: Annie Vivanti’s The Devourers
Anne Urbancic

The Monstrous Maternal: Precarious Motherhood in the Poetry of Marosa di Giorgio
Jeannine M. Pitas

The Wasp Factory: A Story of Monsters and Victims
F. Zeynep Bilge

Returning Desire with Death: Evil Dolls
Claudia Peppel

Theorising the Monstrous and the Virginal in Popular Romance Novels
Jonathan A. Allan

Sacrificing Virginity, or Taming (Im)potency in Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Cristina Santos

Part 2: Art and Monstrosity

New Transgenic Monsters: Bioart and Teratology
Aline Ferreira

The Monster in the Sketch
Kendra Schank Smith and Albert C. Smith

The Monstrosity of Memory: Architecture as a Medium of Cultural Transmission of Trauma
Zuzanna Dziuban

The Role of Architecture of Psychiatric Environments in Making the Monstrous to Monster, Strangers to Aliens or Vice Versa
Katerina Panagaki

The Monstrous Eye (Set at f/5.6)
Joanna Madloch

Tormented: Affective Neuroscience, Ethics, and the Portrayal of Evil
Elizabeth E. Nelson

Facing Monstrosity in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary
John Sears

Goo Goo Muck
Ian Haig

Monstrous Literature: The Case of Dacre Stoker’s Dracula the Undead
Hannah Priest

Part 3: Culture and Monstrosity

Sleeping Dragons, Fighting Dragons
Dan Marshall

Of Gods and Monsters: Personal Religio-Mythic Narrative Identity and the Regenerated Doctor Who (2005)
Jessica Garrahy

Monsters in Advertising
Simona Klaus

Monstrous Representations of Self and Other in Eighteenth-Century Satire
Kerstin Frank

Of Humans and Monsters: Monstrous Representations of Foreigner in Wuthering Heights
Pin-Ching Huang

Troping the Monstrous Body Politic: H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895) and Alasdair Gray’s Lanark. A Life in Four Books (1981)
Carmen-Veronica Borbély

The Return of the Flying Heads
Ann Appleton

Part 4: Politics and Monstrosity

Monster Moms: A Typology of Maternal Filicide Capital Offenders
Shauna Papenbrook and Crystal Ward

Monster Crusades: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children from the Lair to the Keyboard
Caitlin Janzen

Zombie Tourism: Conor McMahon’s Dead Meat
Ken Monteith

Monstrosity and the Unconscious: Xenophobic Violence in South African Society
Ralph Goodman

Kimveer Gill: Media(ted) Representations of National Alien
Julie Gregory and Samah Sabra

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About the Authors/Editors

Elizabeth E. Nelson is core faculty and director of the Dissertation Office at Pacifica Graduate Institute in California. She teaches courses in research, dissertation development, and somatics to doctoral students in depth psychology. Her own research interests include the mythological representations of the feminine, ancient and contemporary gender relations, and the shadow, evil, and the monstrous.

Jonathan A. Allan is a PhD Candidate at the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. His dissertation, ‘The First Time and the Mourning After: A Study of Love, Loss, and Virginity,’ considers the question of ‘the first time’ and how we understand and experience it. His research interests include: flirting, kissing, romance, and virginity. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada has funded his research.


Monstrosity, monster, evil, Shadow, cultural studies, archetype, doll, virgin, vampire, Medusa, mythology

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