Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You're So Juvenile: Monstrous Children in Medieval Culture - K'zoo May 10-13 2012

EARCSTAPA Session for the International Medieval Congress at Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan
May 10-13, 2012
Session I: “You’re So Juvenile: Monstrous Children in Medieval Culture”
In the medieval tradition, monsters serve as warnings, omens, portents, signs of the threshold between Us and Them, Here and There. Patrolling the borders of what is known and unknown, they signify all that humankind most fears and all that is possible beyond human understanding, good, bad and ugly in nature. As such, monsters inevitably are portrayed as decidedly non-human figures. But what about monstrous children? The presence of children problematizes the traditional Us-Other binary presented by most medieval monsters by normalizing them: children/offspring signify families; families signify communities, and this brings monsters into the realm of humanlike existence. How should we read, see, and interpret such figures, given the traditional view of the monstrous as inhuman? Do monstrous children underscore the difference of monsters, or do they provide a new, more encompassing view of monsters as more like humans than we want to believe? Are the offspring of monsters, themselves, automatically monstrous? What in the case of monstrous offspring raised by humans, or of human offspring raised by monsters? If a monster is baptized, is it then rendered human? Perhaps the standard taxonomy needs to be re-examined in light of the presence of monstrous children.
Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent to Asa Simon Mittman (
Deadline for submissions to this session: September 15.
Any papers not included in this session will be forwarded to the Congress Committee for possible inclusion in the General Sessions.
Note, paper proposals will appear on the Mearcstapa blog: