'The Good and Bad of that Sexe': Monstrosity and Womanhood in Early Modern England

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Title: 'The Good and Bad of that Sexe': Monstrosity and Womanhood in Early Modern England
Author: Brenner, Alletta
Abstract: Monsters. In the modern mind, they have come to occupy a mere periphery. Rejected by the orderly nature of our scientific universe, they are either subsumed into the categories of routine, abnormal results, or delegated to that of the supernatural—those things which have no place in our system, and thus cannot exist. However, not so long ago, monsters occupied a very different space. Monsters were evidence of the wondrousness of our world, signs of the vastness and variety of God’s creation, and portents of his wrath. Monsters informed and reflected the way we understood our world. In recent times, historians have increasingly looked to monsters as ways of understanding the historical periods in which they appear. Daston and Park, in their extensive work on the history of wonder, have drawn this connection in terms of the heavenly and prodigious qualities perceived of monsters, and how this tied to historical circumstance. These scholars, along with several others, have drawn a clear line between the rise of monsters and periods of social, religious, and political unrest. For whenever war, famine, or discord have come to pass, monsters, as virtual embodiments of uncertainty and strife, have swelled in quantity, growing at times to such numbers as to become even strikingly ordinary.
Description: Submitted to the Undergraduate Library Research Award scholarship competition: 2004. Awarded a first-place scholarship. 24 p. Paper versions also available for check out or consultation in the University of Oregon's library under the call number: HQ1599.E5 B74 2004.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/631
Date: 2004-12

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