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Monsters Book Excerpt: A Little History of Horror
1 See Richard Kearney, Strangers, Gods and Monsters (New York: Routledge, 2003). Kearney argues that monsters are the face of historical and cultural ambiguity, a challenge thrown down in the face of "neat divisions and borders." See especially pages 115-21.
2 James Twitchell, Dreadful Pleasures: An Anatomy of Modern Horror (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 5-7.
3 See Jonathan Kirsch, God against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism (New York: Viking Compass, 2004), 28-32.
4 Timothy Beal, Religion and Its Monsters (New York: Routledge, 2001), 30-31. 5 Stephen Asma, On Monsters (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 64-67; Beal, Religion and Its Monsters, 5
5. Both are drawing on the work of German scholar Rudolph Otto, who, in his 1917 Idea of the Holy, described what he called "mysterium tremendum" as the typical human response to true religious experience, the sense of horror that comes with an encounter with the "Wholly Other."
6 Elaine Pagels provides the best guidance through this complex story in The Origins of Satan (New York: Vintage Books, 1995). See especially chapters 5 and 6.
7 Jeffrey J. Cohen, Of Giants: Sex, Monsters and the Middle Ages (University of Minnesota Press, 1999) 10, 11.
8 Jeffrey Burton Russell, Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984), 63, 73-74.
9 Asma, On Monsters, 81-82.
10 One of the more interesting discussions of the folklore, and the possible medical roots of the folklore, of the vampire can be found in Paul Barber's Vampires, Burial and Death: Folklore and Reality (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988).
11 Brian P. Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe 2nd Edition (New York: Longman, 1995).
12 Behind my interpretation that follows is the awareness that French theorist Michel Foucault's work shows how Enlightenment modernity created a regime of knowledge that defined the human in relation to how discourses of power circulated through the culture of the prison and the asylum, and constructed the deviant and the abnormal. Science is no neutral arbiter and/or observer that studies the human subject and the physical world. The Enlightenment itself is a construction of a "normal" human ontology that celebrates the "enlightened" subject. See Michel Foucault, The Origin of Things: An Archaeology of Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books, 1994),328-35, and Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books, 1991), 141-49, 195-228.
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