Section 2: Monday and Wednesday 5:00-6:15 PM

Professor: Joyce Huff

Contribute to and Help Produce Issue #4 of the Digital Literature Review: Monsters

Literature abounds with monsters, from the dragons that plague medieval towns to the vampires that rise from nineteenth-century graves to the aliens, cyborgs, and zombies that serve as the basis of our contemporary nightmares. The prevalence of these creatures prompts literary critics to ask why they haunt us. What can we learn from a closer examination of these fictional monsters?

In “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” Jeffrey Jerome Cohen defines the monster as “the embodiment of a certain culture moment—of a time, a feeling, and a place.” For Cohen, monsters are the manifestations of societal fears. In attempting to understand them, we learn about the cultures that produced them as well as about ourselves. Literary monsters can force us to confront the things we’d rather repress. They can police our cultural boundaries or push heroes and heroines beyond them. They enact our hidden fears or our secret desires. Monsters bring out our best selves or reflect our worst; they can reaffirm the norms in the face of otherness or force us to question those norms. In Cohen’s words, monsters “ask us why we have created them.”

In this course, we will investigate some of the philosophical, political, and artistic issues arising from the study of literary monsters. We will read theories of monstrosity and examine literary and filmic representations of monsters. Students will carry out research over two semesters that will culminate in their capstone project in the spring, a project that will be considered for publication in the fourth issue of the Digital Literature Review (DLR).

As part of the DLR team, students will also be responsible for contributing to and producing the DLR blog (, for designing and creating the fourth issue of the DLR (, and for publicizing and promoting our work as well as for soliciting and editing papers from undergraduate students around the globe. In addition to earning course credit and immersive learning experience, you will gain experience in research and scholarship, professional writing and editing, digital design and publishing, and/or emerging media and publicity.

While most students will earn 3 hours for ENG 400 in the fall and 3 hours for ENG 444 in the spring, course credits are negotiable, and, if you are accepted into the course, I will work with you to fit the class into your program of study and to negotiate with your home department about course equivalencies.

Contact Dr. Joyce Huff ( if you are interested in participating.