Monsters: interdisciplinary explorations of monstrosity
Editors: Dr Sibylle Erle (Reader in English Literature) and Dr Helen Hendry (Open University, UK)
There is a continued fascination with all things monsters, which is partly due to the critical and popular reception of Mary Shelley’s creature termed a “new species” by its ambitious and over-reading creator. Frankenstein regards himself a scientist, but his creature’s existence is bodged from the start.
The aim of this ‘Monsters’ collection of articles is therefore to examine the legacy of Shelley’s novel as well as the different incarnations of monsters in contemporary research and teaching contexts. Attempting to explain the appeal of Shelley’s story, this collection offers a unique opportunity to promote dialogue between the social sciences and the humanities.
The title of this collection is deliberately left ambiguous to allow for an interdisciplinary exploration of ‘monstrosity’ and ‘the monstrous’. These concepts apply, in the first instance, to social and cultural threats — that is, to behaviours or (visual) qualities, which are deemed unacceptable because they are perceived as either amoral or unimaginable. The afterlife and reception of Frankenstein not only brings many opportunities for academic research to intersect with popular culture, but also brings into focus the pertinent theoretical and methodological challenges relating to how ‘monstrosity’ and ‘the monstrous’ get taught at universities and at schools.