Domestication in the Theater of the Monstrous

Reexamining Monster Theory


  • Michael E. Heyes


monster studies, monster theory, Derrida, Žižek, Mothman, comparison


Scholarship on monstrosity has often focused on those beings that produce fear, terror, anxiety, and other forms of unease. However, it is clear from the semantic range of the term “monster” that the category encompasses beings who evoke a wide range of emotions. I suggest that scholars have largely displaced first-person accounts of the monstrous and those accounts which do not rely upon horror or anxiety, and I propose a three-category system to correct this displacement. These categories draw from Derrida’s notion of the domestication of the monster and Žižek’s notion of a “fantasy screen” for the monstrous. These categories encourage further research, both between categories of the monstrous and categories that would not typically fit within this descriptor.