Monsters, Deviants, and Outcasts in French Literature

This course examines how and why literature creates and portrays beings that are scary, most often because they fall outside what society considers normal or because they are at the margins of what is believed to be real. By creating monsters, deviants, and outcasts in imaginary or realistic worlds, literary texts offer us venues to explore the social and psychological mechanisms that drive our fears. In some cases, literary texts invite us to question the norms by which we judge those who are different. In many cases they also show us how haunted we are by ancient myths or allegories from the past, and reveal the “monsters” that dwell within our minds. All the texts used in this course are in English translation. No knowledge of French is required.