Werewolves, dragons, giants, witches, demons, lepers, anthropophagi (a race of cannibals with eyes in their chests)-the Middle Ages were awash in tales of the monstrous. In this class, we will consider monsters and the monstrous from the perspectives afforded by history writing, travel accounts, early maps of the world, folklore, drama, and literary texts. Though sometimes dismissed as the imaginings of a more credulous era, such material not only drew on classical authors but also continued to have wide currency in early modern England, persisting through the change in religious culture known as the Reformation. Indeed, as the word "monster" (derived from the Latin verb monstrare, or "to show") suggests, stories of the monstrous reveal much about the cultures in which they circulated. Our readings will track medieval and early modern attitudes toward religious identity, birth and reproductive practices, gender, personhood, animality, and the supernatural. Throughout the term, we will make sense of these topics by employing methods, questions, and theoretical propositions from different academic disciplines in the humanities.
0.000 TO 3.000 Credit hours