Monsters and the Monstrous | 3rd Global Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference
“I’m hated, execrated, those I meet are repelled by me. They want me crucified, and maybe their feelings are all too justified,” sang the American band The Bastard
“I’m hated, execrated, those I meet are repelled by me. They want me crucified, and maybe their feelings are all too justified,” sang the American band The Bastard Fairies in their 2010 title track “Man-Made Monster.” The lyrics of the song oscillate between cackling threats of murder and cannibalism, and the lament, “It didn’t have to be this way, I’m a man-made monster led astray.”
The monster is a paradox: simultaneously a true threat, and the object of sympathy. Monsters have been used for millennia to frighten and control—from children’s stories that threaten them with monsters if they don’t listen to their parents, to propaganda that instills a fear of a monstrous Other to encourage citizens to go to war. History and literature are also replete with misunderstood monsters, creatures who are misjudged, and perhaps even become monstrous because of the judgement they experience. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, misunderstood monsters may even have outnumbered sincerely scary ones. And in the second decade of the twenty-first century we’ve all experienced monstrous events on a number of scales, from the personal to the political to the physical and medical. There seems to be no end, and that’s just how we like it.
This global and inclusive conference is an interdisciplinary exploration of the variety of monsters, from gooey spider-legged creatures under the bed, to serial killers safely locked in jail and historical memory. Why do cultures create such abundances of monsters, both in fiction and in our tellings of reality? What are their functions, their roles in society, their cultural impacts? And at the same time, what draws so many people to the monstrous? Are we driven by some primal urge to touch evil, or is there a redemptive impulse in the desire to save a misunderstood creature or person? What about the way monsters are used to justify horrors perpetrated on Others, and how monstrous actions become justified in themselves based on cultural or political beliefs?
This project takes a broad definition of “monsters” and “the monstrous,” including monstrous creatures, people, actions, and events, with a view to forming a series of innovative interdisciplinary dissemination activities including publishing and future international collaborations among other project plans.
19 (Sunday) 8:00 am - 20 (Monday) 6:00 pm
Štěpánská 645/33, 110 00 Nové Město, Czechia