The Monster Within; A Study of Inner Monstrosity in 19th Century Literatures

Katrina Sandefer Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Eloise Sureau Butler University
In this presentation, I will analyze certain types of monsters and monstrosity in 19th century French and British literatures. I will explore in particular the way in which the repression of homosexual tendencies led to the creation of monsters. When one’s nature is outside of the allowances of society, the subsequent repression creates an absence that, in turn, generates a supplement. This supplement is an overflow that, I argue, becomes a monster. In addition, I will also focus on monstrous duality. Just as a werewolf is a monster due to the duality between man and wolf, a hermaphrodite was considered a monster due to the duality between man and woman. At a time ripe with scientific discoveries of all sorts, what constitutes a “monster” is at the forefront of the scientific and social debates. By exploring the definition, creation and understanding of monsters in relation to sex, sexuality and gender identity in 19th century French and British literatures through the lens of texts like The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde (Stevenson, 1886) and Mister Venus (Rachilde, 1884) along with chosen others, I hope to gain a broader understanding of what a “monster” meant, implied and entailed in the 19th century.
Modern Languages, Cultures, & Literatures
Oral Presentation

When & Where

09:00 AM
Jordan Hall 336C