Posthuman Teratology

Authored by: Patricia MacCormack

The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous

Print publication date:  August  2013
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9781409407546
eBook ISBN: 9781315241197
Adobe ISBN: 9781351894326


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This chapter will explore ways of thinking posthuman teratology. Teratology has referred to the study of monsters and monstrosity in all epistemic incarnations, though most often in medicine and physiology. Two inclinations resonate with two effects encountered in relations with monsters. Irrefutable and irresistible wonder and terror have led, in the life sciences, to a compulsion to cure or redeem through fetishization, making sacred or simply sympathetic. The effect that monstrosity has upon the “non-monstrous” is an inherently ambiguous one, just as monsters themselves are defined, most basically, as ambiguities. The hybrid and the ambiguous hold fascination for the “non-monster” because they show the excesses, potentialities, and infinite protean configurations of form and flesh available in nature even while human sciences see them as unnatural. Human sciences’ study of and quest for cures for monstrosity is less about monstrosity and more about preserving the myth and integrity of the base level zero, normal human.

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