The Monster Inside Us, The Monsters Around Us: Monstrosity and Humanity |

by Jessica C. Murphy

The Monster Inside Us, The Monsters Around Us: Monstrosity and Humanity

A three-day conference
De Montfort University, UK
18, 19, 20 November 2011

Keynote Speakers:
David Punter, University of Bristol
Andy Mousley, De Montfort University, Leicester

From the 12th-century Old French mostre, meaning a prodigy or marvel, the general use of the word ‘monster’ has been derogatory: something large, gross, malformed or abnormal. The monstrous creates fear and loathing, and includes difference through race, culture, society, ideology, psychology and many other Others. This fear is not produced by something entirely alien but by the recognition of ourselves within the Other. In his Introduction to Cogito and the Unconscious Slavoj Žižek argues that the Cartesian Subject has at its heart the monster which emerges when deprived of the ‘wealth of self-experience’. The ease by which the border between ‘human’ and ‘monster’ is transgressed has long been debated in literature; Frankenstein makes a monster by trying to perfect the human, both nineteenth-century Flora Bannerman, in Varney the Vampire, and twenty-first-century Sookie Stackhouse recognise the human origins of the vampire. At the heart of the monster is the human; at the heart of the human is the monster.
This conference seeks to understand the relationship between the human and the monstrous across the centuries and across disciplines. In what ways and to what ends have the human and the monster been defined and polarised? How has the monster been subdued, and with what success? How do definitions and separations of the human and the monstrous change and through what pressures and motivations? How does the emerging field of posthumanism enable us to conceptualise the monstrous in relation to the human and humanism?

Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers which may address, but are not limited to:

• Monstrosity in the humanities
• The monster and criminality
• Psychology and the monster
• Monstrosity and the internet
• The human and the monster in the post-national world
• Monstrosity and miscegenation
• Liminality and transgression
• Theories of monstrosity and/or the human
• Historical monsters
• Humanism, the post-human and monstrosity

Please send abstracts of 300 words to Dr Deborah Mutch, Department of English, Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester, LE1 9BH, email:

Deadline for abstracts: 1 June 2011


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