Thursday, October 31, 2013

Two Books for the Day

in place of a pumpkin please find an orange
by J J Cohen

I have a vast backlog of books sitting on my desk that I've been meaning to compose blog posts about. Some have been waiting patiently (as only books can do) for quite some time. Since today is Halloween, allow me to remove two tomes from this Tower-of-Babel-like stack.

Speaking of Monsters: A Teratological Anthology (ed. Caroline Joan S. Picart and John Edgar Browning) brings together a wide variety of monster theory in twenty-four essays that range from (in the words of Kathleen Long's title) Aristotle to The X-Files. You will find many familiar names here and many classic pieces that come from backgrounds as diverse as critical race studies, queer theory and criminology. The only downside to this capacious project: the book is expensive, and many of the essays (including its reprint of "Monster Culture [Seven Theses]") have been reduced into extracts.

Alexa Wright's Monstrosity: The Human Monster in Visual Culture is just out from I. B. Tauris. I'm a fan of Wright's work, especially A View from Inside, in which she took the words of those who had suffered "psychotic episodes" and turned them into photographic portraits of their authors done in an eighteenth-century painterly style -- a powerfully collaborative exploration of mental disability. Monstrosity is more historically capacious, and features chapters on the Plinian races, feral children, Joseph Merrick, serial killers and mass murderers. It has a disability studies slant throughout (the three blurbs on the back are Margrit Shildrick, Rosemarie Garland Thomson, and me).

Happy Halloween!

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