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On Monsters


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction: Extraordinary Beings Part 1 - Ancient Monsters 1 Alexander Fights Monsters in India 2 Monsters Are Nature's Playthings 3 Hermaphrodites and Man-headed Oxen 4 Monstrous Desire Part 2 - Medieval Monsters: Messages from God 5 Biblical Monsters 6 Do Monsters Have Souls? 7 The Monster Killer 8 Possessing Demons and Witches Part 3 - Scientific Monsters: The Book of Nature is Riddled with Typos 9 Natural History, Freaks, and Nondescripts 10 The Medicalization of Monsters 11 Darwin's Mutants Part 4 - Inner Monsters: The Psychological Aspects 12 The Art of Human Vulnerability: Angst and Horror 13 Criminal Monsters: Psychopathology, Aggression, and the Malignant Heart Part 5 - Monsters Today and Tomorrow 14 Torturers, Terrorists, and Zombies: The Products of Monstrous Societies 15 Future Monsters: Robots, Mutants, and Posthuman Cyborgs Epilogue Notes Index

About the Author

Stephen T. Asma is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, where he holds the title of Distinguished Scholar.


"Monsters literal and metaphorical are dissected with skill and discernment in philosopher and scholar Asma's penetrating "unnatural history." Erudite, funny, and deeply attuned to the profound psychological and moral implications of monstrousness, Asma encompasses the mystical and the scientific as he ponders the simultaneous repulsion and attraction monsters arouse... Asma is insightful and entertaining in his discussion of monsters of the deep, supernatural doppelgangers, zombies, and vampires, and intense in his discussion of Freud and the 'science of monstrous feelings...' Asma's far-reaching book of monsterology is original, captivating, and profoundly elucidating."--Booklist starred review "With insight, erudition, and humor, Asma's compendium of monsterology traces the evolving meanings and manifestations of monsters since antiquity, in religion, philosophy, science, literature, popular culture, and the human psyche. To explain the eternal attraction and repulsion of the monstrous, Asma draws on material from Aristotle to nanotechnology, revealing myriad, surprising ways that supernatural, natural, and metaphorical monsters inhabit the landscape of our imagination."--Adrienne Mayor, author of The First Fossil Hunters and The Poison King "On Monsters is a humorously omnivorous consideration of the monstrous. It's a delightful book, a terrific balance of scholarship and wonder."--Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife "A wide-ranging exploration of fear and evil, Asma's presentation and theories are original and practical, depicting those dark, repulsive notions of an unstable, turbulent world in which everybody must struggle to remain human and civilized." --Publishers Weekly "A comprehensive modern-day bestiary."--New Yorker "Cleverly conceived and slyly written...I have seldom read a book that so satisfyingly achieves such an ambitious goal... His new book is a feast." --Washington Post "Spelunking adventure through the caverns of world history, culture and thought." --Chicago Sun-Times "Asma has a lucid, engaging style, and he uses it to provide a thoughtfully breezy survey of the bizarre and the lurking." --Chicago Reader In his new book, On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears, Columbia College lecturer Stephen Asma lays out a frightful and compelling bestiary." --Time Out Chicago

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