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New Directions in the Study of Religion, Monsters, and the Monstrous Seminar

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

For its fifth and final year, the Seminar on New Directions in the Study of Religion, Monsters, and the Monstrous invites individual paper proposals related to pedagogy and the monstrous. How can we teach monstrosity in constructive ways in our courses? How do we appeal to students’ love of monstrosity while not diluting scholarly rigor? How can we teach the world we live in – past and present – through a monstrous lens? Selected papers will be part of a planned two-hour panel. Topics may include, but are not limited to, classroom exercises or pedagogical design surrounding monstrous figures from global religious traditions, strategies for student in-class “monsterizing” of hypothetical others, tackling current events in the classroom through a Monster Studies angle, and monsters as cultural ambassadors.


All submissions are welcome. We especially encourage submissions that address issues of racial, economic, and cultural diversity; student-led and student-centered pedagogy; and teaching in a post-pandemic world.

Statement of Purpose

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.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members

Review Process Comments