On the Phenomenological Reality of Monsters


  • Richard McCarty Mercyhurst University


Monsters, paranormal, religion and ethics


This article suggests that monster studies can benefit from a phenomenological approach. Namely, phenomenology provides a method for scholars to examine monster narratives as they are reported by experiencers, and then, to investigate what religious and moral frameworks might emerge from those reports. So, too, a phenomenological method can serve to challenge any social or academic attitudes that marginalize monster narratives (or beliefs in monsters) as nonserious. To that end, this article will neither reduce the subject of the monster as an illusional psychological experience, nor will it defer to the representational mode of monster studies that reads the monster as symbolic of a cultural crisis or condition. Rather, by approaching monster narratives phenomenologically, the subject of monsters can be analyzed to identify meaningful religious frameworks that emerge from monster encounters (and beliefs about monsters)—and, to interrogate why, or in what ways, monster narratives are treated less seriously than other religious subjects, especially when monster experiences are coded as paranormal events.