In much of the recent scholarship on monsters in American literature, textual fiends have been reinterpreted to emphasize the symbolic function of monster as Other. Any static, binary interpretation of a text’s monster, however, undermines a definitive characteristic of the monstrous body: its resistance of any stable classification, and its function as a distorted assemblage of multiple perspectives. I argue that an intertextual approach to the monster helps us resist a linear or binary understanding of the variously un-human bodies which are presented in monster narratives. When texts are examined in their capacity to inform, absorb, and transform each other, they themselves become monstrous hybrids, defined by intersections of meaning and resisting containment. By setting canonical texts of Poe, Melville, and Thoreau into play with an overstuffed melodrama, a children’s adventure tale, and a spiritualized anatomy treatise, I seek to emphasize the impact of popular writings on these major authors. Through the medium of monster studies, I disinter and reanimate monster mythology in both its direct and its dormant manifestations, highlighting textual precedents for the doppelgängers, shapeshifters, and zombies that populate the contemporary imagination.
|Subjects||American studies; Folklore; American literature|
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