Reading Monstrosity in Iberian Culture - LS550

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR A Lazaro-Reboll







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.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

• Group Presentation (15 minutes) – 20%
• Mid-term Assignment (1,500 words) – 30%
• Essay (2,500 words) – 50%

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

Course specific skills:

- Students will consider evidence, isolate issues and critically evaluate their historical and contemporary significance;
- They will develop critical, analytical and problem solving skills in the consideration of the construction of Iberian identity;
- Students will develop an understanding of the debates surrounding the notion of monstrosity within a political, religious and historical context;
- Students will develop skills in the analysis and evaluation of contextual material;
- Students will have the opportunity to build upon their critical skills by comparing and contrasting a variety of media (literature, prints, painting, films);
- The course is also designed to provide students with concepts and terminology in the fields of Critical and Cultural Theory;
- Students will gain an appreciation of intercultural diversity;
- Students will develop an ability to mediate and display qualities of empathy in an intercultural context.

All these subject specific outcomes correspond to Programme Outcomes. In terms of knowledge and understanding, students will develop a critical awareness of the broad canon of Iberian cultures and societies and have a broad knowledge of and the analytical skills to understand the cultural and historical contexts in which specific literary and visual discourses on monstrosity are produced; in terms of intellectual skills, students will be able to analyse, evaluate and interpret a variety of texts and other cultural texts in a critical manner, and to reflect on the importance and complexities of cultural representations for individuals and for national societies.

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