Marvels, Monsters and Freaks 1780-1920 - HI5075

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 5 30 (15) DR S Taylor checkmark-circle


Society has always been fascinated by those deemed different and over time, unusual people have been viewed and constructed in a myriad of ways. The course explores the continuities and changes surrounding those classed as different. Broadly, the course will investigate the changing nature of difference from the 1780s to the 1920s. It will examine the body and mind as contested sites; spaces occupied by those considered different; the establishment of normality versus deviance; the changing conceptions of difference over time; relationships between unusual people and the wider society. Using a broad range of sources, from novels to film, the course will trace the shifting cultural constructions of difference.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

One weekly one hour seminar and one weekly two hour seminar.

Indicative reading

Bogdan, Freak Show (1988)
Shattuck, The Forbidden Experiments: The Story of the Wild Boy of Aveyron (1980)
McDonagh, Idiocy: A Cultural History (2008)
Garland Thompson, Freakery (1996)
Feidler, Freaks (1978)
Tromp, (ed), Victorian Freaks (2008)
Porter, A Social History of Madness (1987)
Dale and Melling, Mental Illness and Learning Disability Since 1850 (2006)
Durbach, The Spectacle of Deformity (2009)
Sander L Gilman, Difference and Pathology (1985)
Turner, and Stagg, (eds) Social Histories of Disability and Deformity (2006)
Ernst, (ed) Histories of the Normal and Abnormal (2006)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.