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On Monsters: Race, Sex, Gender and the Other
AMST 305
Fall 2021
Section: 01  

The class will consider the category of the monster as a cultural site of meaning. We will explore narratives of the monstrous both literally and metaphorically, working from Jeffery Jerome Cohen's understanding of a monster as "as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment--of a time, a feeling, and a place." In situating the monstrous, we will consider Derrida's reminder that monstrosity is, at its heart, concerned with hybridity, border crossing, and miscegenation. In resisting clear categorization, the monstrous becomes terrifying, improper, and disorienting. As such, we will look at contested sites of American life, such as migration and the US/Mexican border, forms of racial hierarchy and social control, manifestations of postcolonial despair, the violence surrounding gender and sexual difference, as well as biopolitical and technological fears regarding the almost-human. The course will ask students to consider monstrosity as always already interwoven with cultural notions of racial and sexual deviance, which then contend with otherness through the guise of the supernatural. The course will also explore more literal manifestations of the monstrous, including the zombie, the doppleganger, the vampire, and the witch. In doing so, the monstrous takes shape as a way of facing what Cedric Robinson calls the "recovery of human life from the spoilage of degradation," or the idea that monstrosity centers on a politics of purity, a mode of analysis that thinks through the vulnerability of the corporeal self, the ravages of contamination, and the horror of existence despite, and in defiance of, necropolitical state praxis. This course requires students to watch weekly films in the horror/monster genre.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS AMST
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode:
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Past Enrollment Probability: Less than 50%

Last Updated on JUL-21-2024
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