I can't recall why I had gotten interested, theologically, in monsters. But in preparation for the class I read a lot of books about monster theory and then spun that material in a theological direction. Some of that material found its way into my first book Unclean. In Unclean I talk about how monsters tend to be ontological mixtures, like the fusion between a human and an animal or a machine. Such mixtures become even more monstrous when the mixture is transgressive, mixing the human with something that triggers a disgust response. For example, a human/horse hybrid might make a "creature" like a centaur, but we don't find that mixture overly transgressive or monstrous because we like horses, find them noble and beautiful. But a human/insect or a human/snake or a human/bat mixture strikes us an more monstrous as insects, snakes and bats tend to be disgust triggers.
Anyway, as regular readers know I shared some of my class notes in a blog series entitled "The Theology of Monsters." That series attracts all sorts of search terms, like this one from this week:
frankenstein theologyThat's why you come here, right? Frankenstein theology.
As I discuss in the monster series and in Unclean, what I like about Frankenstein is that it inverts the monster story, flipping who is the victim and who is the monster. In the Frankenstein story we come to identify with the monster, seeing the monster as the one being victimized. Thus, the monster story becomes an interesting place to think about the dynamics of social scapegoating.
Beware the mob when it starts taking up pitchforks.