Monsters and Freaks

The monster is everywhere in popular culture-in novels such as Frankenstein and Dracula, young adult literature like The Twilight Saga, television series such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, as well as short fiction, comic books, graphic novels, and films. Yet the monster myth has existed for thousands of years, and has been widely used by writers as a vehicle for addressing a host of provocative topics. How can we account for the popularity, adaptability, and unique appeal of the monster figure? With what fears and fantasies in the human psyche does it resonate? In terms of the literary genre, how do we classify these increasingly diverse works? The course explores the many aspects of this phenomenon, from its origins in the gothic tradition to its recent incarnation as urban fantasy and paranormal romance. We will also look at the monster as rendered through comedy (the films Young Frankenstein and Monsters, Inc) to explore the ways in which the monster has been recast.  Readings include the early stories of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, and Lord Byron, and more recent works. Clips from films will be viewed during class, and theoretical works by Freud, Asma, and others will assist us in our investigations.


Holyoke Community College
303 Homestead Ave. Holyoke, MA 01040