Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Conference report: Monstrosity and Humanity, DeMontfort University

The conference, ‘The Monster Inside Us, The Monsters Around Us: Monstrosity and Humanity’ was held at DeMontfort University in Leicester from the 18th to the 20th of November, and offered a stimulating and friendly atmosphere to its participants. 

Monstrosity being such a wide-ranging and heterogeneous topic, the subjects of study represented during panels ranged in content from Elizabethan dramas to popular culture in the form of graphic novels and television. Panels were organized to facilitate the broad variety of material and approaches by emphasizing larger themes such as ‘The Monstrous Body’, ‘Speaking and Writing the Monstrous’, and ‘The Socially Monstrous’. Monstrosity was discussed in the capacity of characterization, as a manifestation of the uncanny, and as a socio-political tool, among many others. Highlights of the weekend which I was able to attend included: Discussion of text, paratext, and bifold discourse in the critical considerations of monstrous characters in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, Ellis’ American Psycho, and Le Fanu’s Carmilla; the evolution of villains from their conceptions to their modern adaptations in the cases of Mr. Hyde, and Professor Moriarty; and the use of a myth of a monstrous birth as part of propaganda pamphlets during the English Civil Wars. 

Keynotes were delivered by Professor David Punter (Bristol University) and Dr. Andy Mousley (DeMontfort University): the former discussed the inextricable yet unstable relationships between human, monster, and animal; the latter drew on Shakespeare to call for a rediscovery of universalism, leading to a lively debate on the use and legitimacy of humanism and universalism in a postmodern world. On the whole, the conference’s greatest strength was its versatility and openness in discussing monstrosity in all of its varying media and time periods, which made for an enjoyable and inspiring event.

The website of the conference is here.
The schedule of panels and papers can be downloaded or viewed here.

Kate Katigbak
Durham University

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