On a daily basis we encounter spiteful and malicious acts, witness unbearable moments of tragedy, experience pain, suffering and loss. In struggling to make sense of the things we do, the things which happen to us and the things we see around us, we use the word ‘evil’ as a way of talking about particularly intense, brutal or shocking examples of human behaviour. We continually strive to understand what, if anything, we can say and do about these things.


The Changing Faces of Evil. As we head deeper into the 21st Century, what does it mean to call someone or something ‘evil’? Previously used to describe natural disasters such as the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 or even pandemics such as the Black Death, evil is now used as a popular term by the press and social media to refer to various acts of hatred, violence, terror, brutality and senseless killing.

Evil Children: Children and Evil
This research stream will juggle with 3 competing approaches to children and evil. The first concerns how (certain) children have been presented as evil and considers the nature of evil children as a social and cultural construct. The second concerns what is meant by ‘innocence’ then particularly the ‘innocence of a child’. The third approach considers the question of whether and, if so, in what ways children can be evil.  Are children wicked? Are children malicious?

Evil Women: Women and Evil. Women are not expected to behave in aberrant or illegal ways and we will consider the structural and systemic reasons for the heightened interest, repulsion, condemnation – and even hatred – that feminine transgression generates. Women are condemned not only for what they do but also for what they fail to do; those who harbour, lie for and couple with nefarious men are seen to have failed in their duty as gatekeepers of male morality. Where women themselves are accused of evil they are typically judged more harshly than their male counterparts, as evil acts committed by women are seen to transgress not just legal and moral boundaries but also those imposed by gender.

This inclusive interdisciplinary project seeks to investigate and explore the enduring influence and imagery of monsters and the monstrous on human culture throughout history. In particular, the project will have a dual focus with the intention of examining specific ‘monsters’ as well as assessing the role, function and consequences of persons, actions or events identified as ‘monstrous’. The history and contemporary cultural influences of monsters and monstrous metaphors will also be examined.

From ancient gladiators battling to the death in front of cheering crowds to the modern-day journalistic maxim that ‘if it bleeds, it leads’, violence has occupied a prominent place in the human imagination. It is common to see animals in the wild fighting to establish dominance and eliminate potential predators. But when humans engage in similar behaviour, it raises a host of questions about the nature and implications of violence.

Development Team

Jen Baker is a Teaching Fellow in C19th Literature at the University of Warwick where she delivers modules on C19th novel, C19th Gothic and its adaptations, Crime Fiction 1850-1947, and critical theory.
Her research interests include the Gothic, death studies, childhood, dialogues between texts and visual/material cultures.
Jen is also Co-Chief Editor of HARTS & Minds a journal of the arts and humanities.




Abby Bentham teaches at the University of Salford, where she delivers modules on narrative fiction, critical theory and evil. Her research interests include transgression, empathy, psychopathy, psychoanalysis and masculinity. She works across literature, film and television and is a regular on the conference circuit. Not one to sit on her hands, Abby is also a freelance copywriter and a regular contributor to Real Crime magazine.

Rob Fisher received his D.Phil from Oxford University. A former fellow of Harris Manchester College in Oxford and for 12 years a Principal Lecturer in Philosophy and Course Leader in Theology before leaving to establish a global interdisciplinary research network, he has been teaching, researching and writing about evil for over 30 years, reflecting on the problems of evils, the nature of suffering and how to live with their devastating effects in our lives.

Stephen Morris is an independent scholar in New York City, grew up in Seattle and moved east after high school. He has degrees from Yale, and St Vladimir’s Theological Academy, as well as Hunter (in NYC). A retired teacher of teens with autism, he writes historical fiction and is author of the award-winning Come Hell or High Water trilogy of books. His research and writing on late antiquity/ patristics and Byzantine theology and liturgy saw the publication of his book When Brothers Dwell in Unity: Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality in 2015. He has served as the Eastern Orthodox chaplain of Columbia University.

Natalia Kaloh Vid is an assistant professor at the Department of Translation Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Maribor in Slovenia. She holds a Ph.D. degree in translation studies from the University of Maribor (Slovenia) and also another Ph.D. degree in contemporary Russian literature from the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia). She is the author of the books Ideological translations of Robert Burns’s Poetry in Russia and in the Soviet Union published in 2011 and The Role of Apocalyptic Revelation in Mikhail Bulgakov’s Prose, published in 2012.