Welcome to WR 150 The Modern Monster. Monsters have been with us since the days of ancient Greece and Rome, but the modern monster developed during the fin-de-siècle (1870-1910), a time of significant social, cultural, and technological change. Darwin's theory of evolution established a connection between the human and animal, revealing they were not as different as had been supposed. Freudian psychoanalysis explored the depths of human consciousness. Technology advanced at a relentless pace: the automobile replaced the horse and telegraph wires circled the globe. The rise of Aestheticism and the New Woman created fears of social and cultural degeneration. This was also an age of literary monsters. Mr. Hyde roamed the streets of London, Dr. Moreau created Beast Men on an island in the South Seas, and Dracula plotted invasion from his Transylvanian castle. We will examine the cultural fascination with monsters at the fin-de-siècle, and explore what made these monsters distinctively modern.
On this Digication site you will find the syllabus for the course, assignment sheets for the papers you will be writing, copies of handouts we will be using in class, information on and links to the assigned readings, links to research sources you can use for your papers, and a gallery of images from the fin-de-siècle.
Are you wondering where the image in the banner for this Digication site comes from? It's a painting called Des Caresses by Fernand Khnopff.