The Treachery of Monstrosity

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Call for Papers: Medieval Association of the Pacific (MAP) 2015
Session: The Treachery of (Monstrous) Images: This is Not a Monster
Organizers: Asa Mittman, California State University Chico, and Thea Cervone, University of Southern California
Presider: Thea Cervone

Rene Magritte's famous 1928/9 painting "The Treachery of Images" challenges its experiencer. It depicts a pipe, yet it declares, "This is Not a Pipe." Monstrous images can be similarly tricky and challenging, especially when the subjectivities of a community or culture are concerned. The experience of an encounter with the monstrous is often met with a series of questions about the validity of that experience; these questions stem from both the individual and his/her community. Such questions often challenge the authenticity of human perception, experience, and authority. A person might decide that something considered to be monstrous by others is not monstrous in his or her own sight. A community might decide that it sees one thing while others outside their community see something else. MEARCSTAPA seeks papers that examine this difficult issue as it appears in literature, drama, art, history, and folklore. Specifically, when is the reader/audience/viewer/experiencer presented with monstrosity in a manner that seems straightforward, only to be told by others that there is no monstrosity there? When or how does a poet, artist, polemicist, folklorist, or dramatist depict monstrosity and then deny its presence? When or how does a society develop a denial of monstrosity that is clearly in its midst? When or how does an individual determine that, although others see monstrosity, he or she does not? How do such determinations, denials, and depictions reflect the larger relationship between human experience, bodies of authority, and occult belief systems? Send abstracts of 250 words or less to Thea Cervone at and Asa Mittman at