Monsters, Prodigies and Demons: Medieval and Early Modern Constructions of Alterity

Series introduction

Monsters, Prodigies, and Demons: Medieval and Early Modern Constructions of Alterity is dedicated to the study of monstrosity and alterity in the medieval and early modern world, and to the investigation of cultural constructions of otherness, abnormality and difference from a wide range of perspectives. Submissions are welcome from scholars working within established disciplines, including—but not limited to—philosophy, critical theory, cultural history, history of science, history of art and architecture, literary studies, disability studies, and gender studies. Since much work in the field is necessarily pluri-disciplinary in its methods and scope, the editors are particularly interested in proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries. The series publishes English-language, single-author volumes and collections of original essays. Topics might include hybridity and hermaphroditism; giants, dwarves, and wild-men; cannibalism and the New World; cultures of display and the carnivalesque; “monstrous” encounters in literature and travel; jurisprudence, law, and criminality; teratology and the “New Science”; the aesthetics of the grotesque; automata and self-moving machines; or witchcraft, demonology, and other occult themes.

Keywords: Monsters, monstrosity, supernatural, alterity, otherness, disability studies, grotesque

Geographical scope: Global

Chronological scope: Late Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern

To submit a proposal or completed manuscript to be considered for publication by Medieval Institute Publications or to learn more about the series, please contact our publications office.

Publications

Cover of Portraits of Human Monsters in the Renaissance: Dwarves, Hirsutes, and Castrati as Idealized Anatomical Anomalies: an early modern painting of a nude male with dwarfism from behind.

Portraits of Human Monsters in the Renaissance: Dwarves, Hirsutes, and Castrati as Idealized Anatomical Anomalies

By Touba Ghadessi, Wheaton College

At the center of this interdisciplinary study are court monsters - dwarves, hirsutes, and misshapen individuals - who, by their very presence, altered Renaissance ethics vis-à-vis anatomical difference, social virtues, and scientific knowledge. The study traces how these monsters evolved from objects of curiosity, to scientific cases, to legally independent beings. The works examined here point to the intricate cultural, religious, ethical, and scientific perceptions of monstrous individuals who were fixtures in contemporary courts.

MPD Monograph 1, ISBN 978-1-58044-275-6 (clothbound), 978-1-58044-276-3 (PDF) © 2018

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