Reading Monstrosity in Iberian Culture - HISP5500

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Autumn Term 6 15 (7.5) Antonio Lazaro-Reboll checkmark-circle


This module will take a close look at the figure of the "monster" in Iberian culture, ranging from medieval considerations of the monster in medieval bestiaries to eighteenth-century medical treatises of monstrous forms to twentieth-century depictions of monsters. The module will focus on the historical context out of which a particular meaning of the monster emerges. In order to do so, the course will draw on high and popular culture, a variety of disciplines, and a variety of media (literature, prints, paintings, films). Discussions will be supplemented with relevant historical, critical and theoretical readings. The monster in this course will be an interpretative model for an understanding of how notions such as “normalcy”, “beauty”, the “classical body” are constructed and will enable us to look at issues of otherness, gender, and race. Drawing on theoretical approaches to literary and visual representations, it aims to raise questions around concepts such as the gaze, power and identity.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

This module will be assessed by 100% coursework.
• Group Presentation (15 minutes) – 20%
• Mid-term Assignment (1,500 words) – 30%
• Essay (2,500 words) – 50%

Reassessment methods

This module will be reassessed by 100% coursework.
• Reassessment Essay (2,500 words) – 100%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Boyd, C. (1997). Historia patria: politics, history and national identity in Spain, 1875 – 1975. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Cohen, J.J. (ed.) (1996). Monster Theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Elliott, J. H. (1970). The Old World and the New 1492-1650. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Friedman, John B. (1981). The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Meyerson, Mark D. and Edward D. English (eds.) (2000). Christians, Muslims and Jews in Medieval and Early Modern Spain. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
Mittman, Asa Simon with Peter J. Dendle (eds.) (2012). The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous. Farnham: Ashgate.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Consider evidence, isolate issues and critically evaluate their historical and contemporary significance;
2 Demonstrate critical, analytical and problem-solving skills in the consideration of the construction of Iberian identity;
3 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the debates surrounding the notion of monstrosity within a political, religious and historical context;
4 Demonstrate critical skills when comparing and contrasting a variety of media relating to monstrosity in Iberian culture (literature, prints, painting, films);
5 Demonstrate understanding of concepts and terminology in the fields of Critical and Cultural Theory, and how these apply to monstrosity in Iberian culture;
6 Demonstrate an appreciation and understanding of how different cultures approach the concept of monstrosity;
7 Demonstrate an ability to mediate and empathise with different cultural approaches to monstrosity.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Exercise their own initiative and take personal responsibility for their own learning;;
2 Communicate information, ideas, problems, and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences;
3 Apply research methods and techniques that they have learned to review, consolidate, extend and apply their knowledge and understanding;
4 Critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data to make judgements;
5 Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively with others.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 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.
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