Capstone Experience: Monstrous Imaginations - Writing Intensive

English 4970W
Monstrous Imaginations
Section 3
Lee Manion
Arts & Science 101

Monsters of various sorts have occupied a key place in the literary imagination for centuries, and continue to do so today. Yet why keep telling such stories? Are they only for a good scare on a dark and stormy night? A recent theorist writing on the human need to imagine monsters states that the monster is "an embodiment of difference, a breaker of category, and a resistant Other" who is nonetheless dangerously "hybrid." How does the monster simultaneously resist assimilation into "normal" society and challenge cultural norms? This capstone course will trace different forms that monsters assume across historical periods and how these forms raise or imply questions about the threat of the unknown or unfamiliar. These questions include the boundary between the human and the animal, the role of rationality and the spiritual, and the relationship between the past and present. Primary readings range from William Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling, from Arthur Miller to Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda's 2016 graphic novel Monstress. Short critical readings approaching the role of the monster from various critical methodologies will also be supplied. This class is a writing intensive course. Prerequisite: English major with senior standing.