The Mission of the New Directions in the Study of Religion, Monsters, and the Monstrous Five-Year Seminar is to facilitate dialogue between different areas and methodologies within religious studies to arrive at a better theory of the intersection of religion, monsters, and the monstrous. Due to the diverse nature of our topic, we encourage proposals from any tradition or theoretical perspective. Each year of the seminar will focus on a different theoretical problem as follows:
Year One –– Taxonomy. The first task of the seminar will be to explore the taxonomy of “monsters” as a second-order category. What defines a “monster” and what are we talking about when we talk about monsters?
Year Two –– Theodicy: What role do monsters serve in explaining misfortune? Are monsters a source of injustice or do they create justice as agents of punishment?
Year Three –– Cosmology: How do monsters function to map out reality, including time and space?
Year Four –– Monstrification and humanization: When, how, and why are other people and their gods “monstrified?” How does racism intersect with the discourse of the monstrous? Conversely, when, how, and why are monsters humanized?
Year Five –– Phenomenology: How should we interpret narratives of encounters with fantastic beings? To what extent are reductionist readings of these narratives appropriate and helpful? Are there viable approaches beyond reductionism?
At the conclusion of the seminar, our findings will be published as an edited volume or otherwise disseminated to the scholarly community.