Monsters in Literature and Film: Medieval to Modern
From the Middle Ages to the modern era, monsters have crept in and between the pages of our most beloved works of literature and the screens of our most popular films. They incite our deepest fears and arouse our morbid curiosities, all the while revealing our own sublimated anxieties. Existing at the borders of inclusion/exclusion and the human/inhuman, they help to define the very cultural norms – gender, race, sexuality, the body – that they threaten to upend. In this course, we will trace depictions of monsters in film and literature across genre and period, while asking what makes a monster monstrous. What do these monstrosities reveal about how and where the lines of cultural norms are drawn and protected, and how do they shift across different historical contexts and modes of representation? Readings will include the lays of Marie de France, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mystery Hound of the Baskervilles, and Octavia Butler’s haunting vampire novel, Fledgling; films will include Nosferatu, King Kong, Monsters, Inc., 28 Weeks Later, and Victor Frankenstein. The course will also include short readings in film analysis and literary and cultural theory. Requirements include weekly reading responses, regular participation in discussions, and a final paper that draws connections across two or more of our assigned texts and the monsters contained therein.