The image of the monster has been historically used to epitomise danger, abnormality, sin. Even before angels, monsters were portrayed as messengers who anticipated catastrophes, such as storms and other dramatic events which would be too strong to be explained. Only good behaviour, submission to rules or faith into another inexplicable bigger entity, such as magic, witchcraft or religion, could prevent societies to be touched by monsters.
The othering of monsters – or monsters as estranged from an imagined “us” – is part of the cultural narrative that dismisses the complexity of what we call humans, contributing to the binary division between good and bad, silencing all of which exists in-between. Indeed, monsters inhabit the spaces in-between narrow definitions and expose the failure of rigid divisions between “normal” and “abnormal”. Ultimately, the figure of monsters confronts us with the precariousness of by-default normativities, triggering the need to rethink what humanity is, and, ultimately, who counts as a human being.
The Monsters Summer School II embraces monstrosity in what it offers regarding the undoing of binaries and the celebration of embodied differences in times when the advancement of extreme-right and populism threatens our existence. We aim to explore who are the contemporary monsters, what are the dichotomies they challenge and how narratives on monsters contribute to definitions of human. We want to explore monsters as a possible theoretical figuration to escape mainstream celebrations of humanity and to embrace the vivid possibilities offered by interdisciplinary, boundary-crossing contributions from different fields of knowledge. We aim at creating spaces to discuss contributions and experiences that often fall out of the map even within critical studies. Also, we interrogate the possibilities of creating knowledge from places of estrangement regarding mainstream sources of knowledge production in the academic fields of LGBTQI+ and critical studies.
Drawing on timely, interdisciplinary theoretical contributions and intersectional empirical work on queers, crips and other misfits, the Monsters’ Summer School will consolidate academic knowledge in the fields of sexual and gender dissidence, disability and other forms of embodied misfit.