Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Here Be Monsters

ENGL 021.910

In this course, we will be exploring the unknown and its monsters--or is it the unknown and our monsters?  From our childhood when we ask our parents to shut the closet door, we imaginatively fill the dark empty space with terrifying creatures, as if to leave it empty would be worse.  Monster myths allowed medieval Europeans to construct socially acceptable ideas of masculinity and femininity, explore physical disability and condemn ethnic and religious difference.  Imagining a perverse, deviant monster that would be anything but "us," always "other," was crucial in promoting a "correct" or normative Western identity in ways still relevant to today's political discourse and popular culture.  Readings will be culled from a wide array of medieval sources including Beowulf, Geoffrey of Monmouth, The Song of Roland, Bisclavret, Mandeville's Travels, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and conclude by addressing modern political rhetoric, Lady Gaga and Twilight.

fulfills requirements