Friday, March 09, 2012

Now in print: Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous

by J J Cohen

Warm congratulations to Asa Simon Mittman and Peter Dendle on the publication of their massive Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous. You will recognize many of the contributors (John Block Friedman! Dana Oswald! Debra Higgs Strickland! the illustrious Karl Steel! and many more!) The temporal and geographical scope of this 598 page beast is vast.

The postscript is by yours truly: "The Promise of Monsters" project that appeared in draft on the blog not all that long ago.

Press blurb and endorsements are below, as well as the ToC. Go to the Ashgate website to view extracts; there's a discount if you place your order there. Don't forget to buy some extra copies as they make fine gifts for unexpected houseguests -- and, in the event of an actual zombie apocalypse the book may be dropped from great heights as an effective weapon or burned as long lasting source of warmth.


The field of monster studies has grown significantly over the past few years and this companion provides a comprehensive guide to the study of monsters and the monstrous from historical, regional and thematic perspectives. The collection reflects the truly multi-disciplinary nature of monster studies, bringing in scholars from literature, art history, religious studies, history, classics, and cultural and media studies. The companion will offer scholars and graduate students the first comprehensive and authoritative review of this emergent field. 

Contents: Foreword, John Block Friedman; Introduction: the impact of monsters and monster studies, Asa Simon Mittman; Part I History of Monstrosity: The monstrous Caribbean, Persephone Braham; The unlucky, the bad and the ugly: categories of monstrosity from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, Surekha Davies; Beauteous beast: the water deity Mami Wata in Africa, Henry John Drewal; Rejecting and embracing the monstrous in Ancient Greece and Rome, D. Felton; Early modern past to postmodern future: changing discourses of Japanese monsters, Michael Dylan Foster; On the monstrous in the Islamic visual tradition, Francesca Leoni; Human of the heart: pitiful oni in medieval Japan, Michelle Osterfield Li; The Maya 'cosmic monster' as a political; and religious symbol, Matthew Looper; Monsters lift the veil: Chinese animal hybrids and processes of transformation, Karin Myhre; From hideous to hedonist: the changing face of the 19th-century monster, Abigail Lee Six and Hannah Thompson; Centaurs, satyrs, and cynocephali: medieval scholarly teratology and the question of the human, Karl Steel; Invisible monsters: vision, horror, and contemporary culture, Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock. Part II Critical Approaches to Monstrosity: Posthuman teratology, Patricia MacCormack; Monstrous sexuality: variations on the vagina dentata, Sarah Alison Miller; Postcolonial monsters: a conversation with Partha Mitter, Partha Mitter with Asa Simon Mittman and Peter Dendle; Monstrous gender: geographies of ambiguity, Dana Oswald; Monstrosity and race in the late Middle Ages, Debra Higgs Strickland; Hic sunt dracones: the geography and cartography of monsters, Chet van Duzer; Conclusion: monsters in the 21st century: the preternatural in an age of scientific consensus, Peter J. Dendle; Postscript: the promise of monsters, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen; Bibliography; Index. 

'This volume awakens the monster as an academic topic. Combining John Block Friedman's historical-literary approach with Jeffrey J. Cohen's theoretical concerns, Asa Simon Mittman and Peter Dendle have marshaled chapters that comprise a seminal work for everyone interested in the monstrous. Wide-ranging chapters work through various historical and geographic views of monstrosity, from the African Mami Wata to Pokemon. Theoretical chapters consider contemporary views of what a monster is and why we care about them as we do. Taken together, the essays in The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous reveal that monsters appear in every culture and haunt each of us in different ways, or as Mittman says, the monstrous calls into question our (their, anyone's) epistemological worldview, highlights its fragmentary and inadequate nature, and thereby asks us … to acknowledge the failures of our systems of categorization.'
David Sprunger, Concordia College, Minnesota, USA

'An impressively broad and thoughtful collection of the ways in which many cultures, ancient and modern, have used monsters to think about what it means to be human. Lavishly illustrated and ambitious in scope, this book enlarges the reader's imagination.'
Professor Lorraine Daston, Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Germany

1 comment:

Janice said...

Curse your enabling ways! *hits the order button*