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Hailed as "a feast" (Washington Post) and "a modern-day bestiary" (The New Yorker), Stephen Asma'sOn Monstersis a wide-ranging cultural and conceptual history of monsters--how they have evolved over time, what functions they have served for us, and what shapes they are likely to take in the future. Beginning at the time of Alexander the Great, the monsters come fast and furious--Behemoth and Leviathan, Gog and Magog, Satan and his demons, Grendel and Frankenstein, circus freaks and headless children, right up to the serial killers and terrorists of today and the post-human cyborgs of tomorrow. Monsters embody our deepest anxieties and vulnerabilities, Asma argues, but they also symbolize the mysterious and incoherent territory beyond the safe enclosures of rational thought. Exploring sources as diverse as philosophical treatises, scientific notebooks, and novels, Asma unravels traditional monster stories for the clues they offer about the inner logic of an era's fears and fascinations. In doing so, he illuminates the many ways monsters have become repositories for those human qualities that must be repudiated, externalized, and defeated.
Stephen T. Asma is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, where he holds the title of Distinguished Scholar and is a fellow of the Research Group in Mind, Science and Culture. The author of numerous books, including Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: The Culture and Evolution of Natural History Museums (OUP, 2001), he lives in Chicago.
Table of Contents
|Introduction: Extraordinary Beings||p. 1|
|Repulsion and Attraction|
|The Literal and the Symbolic|
|Alexander Fights Monsters in India||p. 19|
|Monsters Are Nature's Playthings||p. 26|
|Natural History and Credulity|
|Hermaphrodites and Man-headed Oxen||p. 39|
|Reason and Superstition|
|Monstrous Desire||p. 51|
|Medieval Monsters: Messages from God|
|Biblical Monsters||p. 63|
|Do Monsters Have Souls?||p. 74|
|Monsters and a Creator God|
|Baptizing the Monstrous Races|
|The Descent of Monsters|
|The Monster Killer||p. 94|
|"I Have Known Much Peril"|
|Tolkien's Tragic Beowulf|
|Possessing Demons and Witches||p. 103|
|St. Anthony Fights the Demons|
|The Witch Hunter Illusion or Reality?|
|Monstrous Desires Revisited|
|Driving Out the Demons|
|Scientific Monsters: The book of Nature is Riddled with Typos|
|Natural History, Freaks, and Nondescripts||p. 123|
|Eradicating the Fantastic|
|Responding to the Marvelous|
|A Mischievous Taxidermist|
|The Medicalization of Monsters||p. 141|
|Pregnant Women Should Not Look upon Monsters|
|Monsters and the Mechanization of Nature|
|John Hunter's Monsters|
|Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire's Teratology|
|William Lawrence and the Headless Children|
|Darwin's Mutants||p. 163|
|Monsters and Transmutation|
|No Monstrous Jumps in Nature|
|Mutationism and Hopeful Monsters|
|Alberch, Gould, and the Return of the Monsters|
|Inner Monsters: The Psychological Aspects|
|The Art of Human Vulnerability: Angst and Horror||p. 183|
|Fear and Cognitive Mismatch|
|Angst and Fear|
|Criminal Monsters: Psychopathology, Aggression, and the Malignant Heart||p. 203|
|Monsters in the Headlines|
|Leopold and Loeb|
|Rage and Aggression|
|Monstrous Desire Revisited|
|The Causes of Psychopathology|
|Judging and Managing the Monsters|
|Monsters Today and Tomorrow|
|Torturers, Terrorists, and Zombies: The Products of Monstrous Societies||p. 231|
|Xenophobia and Race|
|Monsters from the Oppressed Classes|
|Monsters of Ideology Deconstructing Monsters|
|Future Monsters: Robots, Mutants, and Posthuman Cyborgs||p. 255|
|Mutants and Robots|
|Disembodied Minds Playing God: Biotechnology|
|Are Monsters in the Eye of the Beholder?|
|Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.|