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Imagining the Monstrous: a Journey from Abhorrence to Understanding

(Advanced Studies in Old English)

The studies in this journal present an overview of issues concerning alterity ranging from the conventional to the revisionist. Danièle Cybulskie’s study of Len Wiseman’s Underworld (2003) addresses vampire and werewolf folklore in the modern world while examining the connection to its Anglo-Saxon roots. Ryan Whibbs moves us from the abnormal to the exotic in his study of candy and cannibalism in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1971). This concept of consumption takes on monstrous proportions in Noah Salo’s examination of Terminator II (1991) as we see the products of social experimentation consuming society itself. In Sue Ballam’s essay on Star Trek (the original series 1966-1969), the consequences of social development into alien regions are markedly less dire as humankind’s travels through space bring us into contact with monsters that are fundamentally benign. Science fiction like Terminator II or Star Trek assume that boundaries of space and time are there to be crossed: Danica Taylor’s examination of Wizard’s First Rule (1994) presents a fantasy world in which the integrity of borders separating one race from another must be enforced in order to preserve inherent definitions of the monstrous. In the final essay, Karen Walhout destabilizes the historical stereotype of hermaphroditism found in the Liber Monstrorum in her study of Middlesex (2003), where the sympathetic main character is marginalized by social expectation. These six essays trace the development of alterity from objectified predators and abnormalities to a re-envisioning of monsters as self-aware and self-determining Others through the shift in narrative perspective.


  • Danièle Cybulskie: Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing: the Subversion of the Heroic Other in Len Wiseman’s Underworld.
  • Ryan Whibbs: In A Monster’s Kitchen: Food Images as a Measure of Alterity in Anglo-Saxon and Modern Culture.
  • Noah Salo: Human Monstrosity in Terminator II: Judgement Day, Beowulf and The Passion of St Christopher.
  • Sue Ballam: Star Trek: The Futures Past.
  • Danica Taylor: Relating the Past and Present in Wizard’s First Rule.
  • Karen Walhout: The Evolution of Perspective: Studies in Alterity over Time in the Novel Middlesex.

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