5 Books on Monstrosity and the Supernatural

Here are five books that examine the monstrous, the uncanny, the magical, and the supernatural, and what these reveal about our own anxieties and feelings toward sexuality, rebellion, and historical traumas.

  1. Monster as War Machine by Professor Mabel Moraña
The Monster as War Machine Mabel Moraña

In this book critical to those studying film and popular culture, Professor Mabel Moraña examines topics such as identity, hybridity, and political agency through the European monster tradition as it intersects with American mass media. Moraña draws from a wide range of works, including those by Marx, Foucalt, Haraway, Freud, and Baudrillard, that illuminate the disruptive and emancipatory role of monstrosity as a representation of evil, instinct, truth, and rebellion. 

  1. Monstrosity and Chinese Cultural Identity by Professor Issac Yue
Monstrosity and Chinese Cultural Identity: Xenophobia and the Reimagination of Foreignness in Vernacular Literature since the Song Dynasty Isaac Yue

Using four case studies on the developmental history of the fox demon, Monstrosity and Chinese Cultural Identity explores how monstrosity, through its traditional connection to foreignness, shaped Chinese society’s self concept since the Song dynasty in what Professor Vincent Durand-Dastès called “an original, daring reappraisal of the ‘ugly hero’ in Chinese fiction.”

  1. Unnatural Reproductions and Monstrosity by Professors Andrea Woof and Brandy Schillace, eds.
Unnatural Reproductions and Monstrosity: The Birth of the Monster in Literature, Film, and Media Andrea Wood and Brandy Schillace

Looking at history, literature, medical humanities, and film and media studies, the essays in Unnatural Reproductions and Monstrosity explore monstrous representations of reproduction and birth that speak to people’s complex feelings toward gender and sexuality. An important work to those studying literature, gender studies, and film, this book analyzes how fear toward monsters and their reproductive potential has shaped various anxieties about the future. 

  1. Supernatural Sinophone Taiwan and Beyond by Professor Chia-rong Wu
Supernatural Sinophone Taiwan and Beyond Chia-rong Wu

The first scholarly monograph focusing on the literary and cultural geography of Taiwan through a Sinophone lens, Supernatural Sinophone Taiwan and Beyond looks at what Professor Chia-rong Wu calls “the strange” in Sinophone Taiwan literature: the fantastic, the uncanny, the spectral, the monstrous, the magical. An essential work to scholars and students in Sinophone studies, this book shows how Sinophone Taiwan use the strange to give voice to historical traumas and show the relationship between the past and the present. 

  1. The Grotesque and the Unnatural by Professors Markku Salmela and Jarkko Toikkanen, eds.
The Grotesque and the Unnatural Markku Salmela and Jarkko Toikkanen

Artists and writers have explored the grotesque for centuries, but rarely has it been completely pinned down, and it is usually thought of in relation to other concepts: Mikhail Bakhtin’s carnival, Victor Hugo’s sublime, the Victorian Gothic imagination. The Grotesque and Unnatural upends and questions previous conceptions of the grotesque, and views it from the perspective of one specific motif—the unnatural—and follows this motif from the Renaissance through the present day to give readers a deeper understanding of what the grotesque truly is.

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