Closing panel: The Future of Monster Studies

On Friday we will have a closing panel on the future of Monster Studies. Where does the monster go after the conference? And where is it taking us? Why even engage with monsters in the first place? And is there something standing behind you right now, reading this over your shoulder? So many questions! Come find the answers on Friday, where all will be revealed.

For more on the field of monster studies, see Asa Mittman’s introduction to The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous: The Impact of Monsters and Monster Studies, as well as Donna McCormack’s The Future of Monster Studies.

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Introduction: The Impact of Monsters and Monster Studies

By Asa Simon Mittman

From: The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous (2012).

 

Monsters do a great deal of cultural work, but they do not do it nicely.[1]  They not only challenge and question; they trouble, they worry, they haunt. They break and tear and rend cultures, all the while constructing them and propping them up. They swallow up our cultural mores and expectations, and then, becoming what they eat, they reflect back to us our own faces, made disgusting or, perhaps, revealed to always have been so. It is not only the Doppelgänger of Shelley or Poe that is our evil twin. All monsters—from headless (but human?) blemmyes to bestial dragons to the amorphous, disembodied forces of the virus—all “monsters” are our constructions, even those that can clearly be traced to “real,” scientifically known beings (conjoined twins and hermaphrodites,[2] for example, as seen through pre- modern lenses); through the processes by which we construct or reconstruct them, we categorize, name, and define them, and thereby grant them anthropocentric meaning that makes them “ours.”

But why should we study them? Why should we read, write, and teach about monsters and the monstrous? Why should we use them as theoretical constructs to apply to other subjects? I will try here to offer some initial answers, as well as frame the necessarily heterogeneous contents of this volume. At the very outset, though, I wish to note my amazement that, in the space of a few years, the study of monsters has moved from the absolute periphery—perhaps its logical starting point—to a much more central position in academics. Continue reading

Practical information: about the conference and about getting around in Stavanger

Welcome to Stavanger and to the international conference Promises of Monsters 28. & 29. April!

 

The main conference venue is at the University of Stavanger, in Kjell Arholms house. The Thursday evening event, Monsters in Art, is at Sølvberget Library and Cultural Centre in the heart of the city. The conference dinner is a few minutes walk from there, at the restaurant Allegro.

 

Transport:

To/from airport:

The Airport Bus is a shuttle-service between Stavanger city centre and Sola Airport. The bus stops on demand, but also announces the central hotels along its route to the city.

To /from the university:

The bus station is the central hub for transportation in Stavanger. From the bus station, the following bus routes can be taken directly to the UiS: 6, 7, X60 and X90. We recommend the X60, it’s the quickest one, and leaves every 15 minutes from bus stop 18.

You can buy tickets in advance, on the bus, or in a phone app. We recommend the latter; it’s easy and cheaper. Read more about time schedules, ticket purchases and prices here

Unfortunately, there are no direct buses from the airport to the University campus. You can get the airport bus to the stop called Madlakrossen. From there, local buses 6 and 7 will go to the university. A taxi from the airport to UiS will cost approximately 300 NOK.

Conference practicalities

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Blobbing – An offer to all presenters

By Blob-assistants Anna Efraimsson and Tove Salmgren

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Blobbing is a performative and interactive proposal aiming at introducing a monster logic at the actual conference, a physical presence of monsters in parallel to all the speaking and analyzing about monsters. Blobbing is infiltrating and playing, focusing on bodily and spatial re-organisation. The speakers and contributors of the conference are offered a Blobbing of their presentations- formats and instructions that could infiltrate or even possess the talk, the lecture, the after-talk etc.

We, Anna and Tove- the Blob assistants will be on spot at the conference by the registration desk where you can learn more and sign up for a small, medium or large size of Blobbing according to your Blobbing needs. Below you can get a pre taste of the Blobb-menu offered for you.

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Monsters in Art

28th of April

A collaboration between Sølvberget, Stavanger Kulturhus and the Monster Network’s conference: Promises of Monsters

 

Welcome to an evening about monsters in art!

Monsters have always been at home in art – whether in paintings or story-telling, theatre or film – and these days the monster seems as restless as ever. It appears in popular TV-series such as The Walking Dead and Doctor Who; in the flesh-like sculptures by Patricia Piccinini; in podcasts such as Welcome to Night Vale and Alice isn’t Dead; in films like The Babadook and The Witch; in the rekindled interest in Lovecraft’s work, and much, much more.

But why do monsters keep returning to haunt us through art? What do they have to tell us about contemporary fears and anxieties? And what does it mean to work with the monster through art – and with art through the monster?

The evening begins with a short presentation on the subject of monsters and art by Swedish artist Tove Kjellmark. Afterwards, there will be a panel discussion followed by an open discussion with questions from the audience.

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