Monsters occupy a conspicuous place in our consciousness, in our discourse, and in our literary creations. Why are we so fascinated by them? Why have they cropped up in cultures around the world for thousands of years and why, in a modern and technological age, do they continue to thrive? And what can we learn about ourselves and our world by critically examining our relationship with them, however imaginary they may be? In Western literature, monsters inhabit texts from the ancient epics to medieval works like Beowulf and Dante's Divine Comedy to well-known (though not necessarily widely-read) classics such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). Our studies will encompass a number of these texts as well as more contemporary examples, such as Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (1959), Emil Ferris’s graphic novel, My Favorite Thing is Monsters (2017), and playwright Steven Dietz’s adaptation of Stoker’s story. We will learn how monsters have been embodied in film and animation and view them through a variety of lenses—including philosophy, psychology, history, and art.
Class activities will include seminars, screenings, small-group discussions, and workshops. Students will develop and articulate their new understandings by means of response papers, reading notes, and a final creative project. What are the limits of the monstrous? Let’s find out together.
Credit equivalencies for this program may be awarded in the areas of medieval to contemporary literature (4) and genre studies in gothic literature, drama, and film (4).
Reading list for Monsters: A Literary and Cultural Exploration
With the exception of Dietz, all titles will be available in Evergreen’s bookstore, including some used and rental copies. You must obtain the specific editions listed below:
Beowulf (trans. Seamus Heaney). Norton, 978-0393320978
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein. Norton Critical Edition, 978-03927931
Bram Stoker, Dracula. Oxford World’s Classics, 978-0199564095
Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House. Penguin, 978-0143039983
John Gardner, Grendel. Vintage, 978-0679723110
Emil Ferris, My Favorite Thing is Monsters. Fantagraphics, 978-1606999592
Leo Braudy, Haunted. Yale UP, 978-0300239997
Steven Dietz, theatrical adaptation of Dracula (details to follow in class)
Course Reference Numbers
Humanities, education, cultural studies, literature, writing.
$25 fee for Theater Tickets