Monsters, Prodigies, and Demons: Medieval and Early Modern Constructions of Alterity

This series is dedicated to the study of monstrosity and alterity in the medieval and early modern world, and to the investigation of cultural constructions of otherness, abnormality and difference from a wide range of perspectives. Submissions are welcome from scholars working within established disciplines, including—but not limited to—philosophy, critical theory, cultural history, history of science, history of art and architecture, literary studies, disability studies, and gender studies. Since much work in the field is necessarily pluridisciplinary in its methods and scope, the editors are particularly interested in proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries. The series publishes English-language, single-author volumes and collections of original essays. Topics might include hybridity and hermaphroditism; giants, dwarves, and wild-men; cannibalism and the New World; cultures of display and the carnivalesque; “monstrous” encounters in literature and travel; jurisprudence, law, and criminality; teratology and the “New Science”; the aesthetics of the grotesque; automata and self-moving machines; or witchcraft, demonology, and other occult themes.

Christophorus Froschoverus, 1554. folio 51, the monster of Ravenna. Source: Wellcome Library, London.

Geographical Scope


Chronological Scope

Late Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern


Monsters, monstrosity, supernatural, alterity, otherness, disability studies, grotesque

Editorial Contact

Titles in Production or Contracted

Touba Ghadessi (Wheaton College, Norton Massachusetts), Portraits of Human Monsters in the Renaissance: Dwarves, Hirsutes, and Castrati as Idealized Anatomical Anomalies


Series Editors

Kathleen Perry Long

Kathleen Long is Professor of French in the Department of Romance Studies.  Her research focuses on concepts of gender, particularly transgender and intersex, in the early modern world, on early modern representations of the monstrous, and on religious violence.  Her publications include:  High Anxiety: Masculinity in Crisis in Early Modern France (2002); Hermaphrodites in Renaissance Europe (2006); and Gender and Scientific Discourse in Early Modern Europe (2010).  She is preparing a translation of the early modern satirical novel, The Island of Hermaphrodites, as well as a book-length study on the connections between early modern discourses of monstrosity and modern discourses of disability.

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Luke Morgan

Dr Luke Morgan is Associate Professor of Art History and Theory and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture. His books include Nature as Model: Salomon de Caus and Early Seventeenth-Century Landscape Design (2006) and The Monster in the Garden: The Grotesque and the Gigantic in Renaissance Landscape Design (2015), both published by The University of Pennsylvania Press. He is the editor of two book series: Monsters, Prodigies, and Demons: Medieval and Early Modern Constructions of Alterity ( and Monash Studies in Art History & Theory ( He is also on the editorial board of the journal Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, which he has guest-edited. He has held grants from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, among others. His current research on the theme of enchantment in the early modern landscape is funded by an ARC Discovery Project Grant. His recent publications include the chapter on landscape in The Oxford Handbook to the Age of Shakespeare, ed. R. Malcolm Smuts (Oxford University Press, 2014), and the articles ‘Living Rocks and Petrified Giants in Vicino Orsini’s Sacro Bosco’, in Architectural Theory Review 20: 1 (2015), and ‘”Anciently Modern and Modernly Ancient”: Ruins and Reconstructions in Sixteenth-Century Italian Landscape Design’, in Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, vol. 36, no. 1 (2016). In Australia, his essays have appeared in books and exhibition catalogues published by The Powerhouse Museum (Sydney), The Miegunyah Press (Melbourne), Heide Museum of Modern Art, the Centre for Contemporary Photography and the Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand.

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Series Advisory Board

Elizabeth B. Bearden

Bearden’s interests include early modern literature; the reception of antiquity; early modern genre debates; hermeneutics; Neolatin, Siglo de Oro and transatlantic literatures; translation studies; travel writing; the history of rhetoric; natural law, the beginnings of international human rights law, and Neostoic cosmopolitanism; the history of science and medicine; digital humanities; as well as theoretical approaches including New Formalism, narratology, New Historicism, visual culture studies, cultural studies, queer and gender studies, and New Philology. Bearden teaches a variety of grad and undergrad classes on early modern literature, rhetoric, the reception of antiquity, poetry and prose, word-image relations, and disability studies. She teaches graduate seminars on the Sidney Circle, Ekphrasis: word and image from antiquity to the Renaissance; Travel Writing, and disability in early modern literature. She also enjoys postmodern novels, science fiction and fantasy, the OuLiPo, cooking, fine wine, tandem cycling, Latin dancing, and Bolero, though she doesn’t claim to have expertise in these categories.

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Jeffrey Jerome Cohen

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen is Professor of English and Director of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. His research examines strange and beautiful things that challenge the imagination, phenomena that seem alien and intimate at once. He is especially interested in what monsters, foreigners, queers, inhuman forces, objects and matter that won’t stay put reveal about the cultures that dream, fear and desire them. Cohen is widely published in the fields of medieval studies, monster theory, posthumanism and ecocriticism.

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Surekha Davies

I am a cultural historian specializing in science, visual and material culture, and the entangled connections between Europe and the wider world, particularly the Americas. I was educated at the University of Cambridge and was awarded a Ph.D. by the Warburg Institute, University of London. My research and teaching interests include exploration, empires and colonialism, collecting and display, monstrosity, the history of anthropology from antiquity to the nineteenth century, and the history of mentalities c.1400-1800. My research has been generously supported by the John Carter Brown Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Library of Congress, the Newberry Library, the American Historical Association, the American Philosophical Society, and the Leverhulme Trust.

Before moving to the US, where I am currently assistant professor of history at Western Connecticut State University, I was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London. During my doctoral research, I was also a curator at The British Library. I am a Founding Editor of the new book series Maps, Spaces, Cultures (Brill).

When I am not poking around universities, libraries, museums or archives, I may be experimenting with sourdough cultures or with jazz piano riffs.

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Richard H. Godden

I mainly focus on medieval English Literature, with an emphasis on the 14th and 15th centuries. One of my abiding interests has been time and temporality.  I am particularly interested in the experience and representation of asynchrony, both in medieval literature and in terms of my own subject position as an academic medievalist.

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Maria Fabricius Hansen

As an art historian my primary field of research is art and architecture from late antiquity until c. 1600, historically and theoretically, and with a focus on Italian art. Presently, I am focusing on grotesques in the sixteenth century, and, generally, the relation between art and nature, the concept of art and of the artist, and notions of imagination and invention in the period.

Moreover, I work with contemporary art and architecture, questions concerning art and technology, media and materiality, as well as museology and problems of cultural heritage.

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Virginia A. Krause

Having worked on idleness, witchcraft, and now on the rise of the novel, Professor Krause is interested not in the Renaissance’s positivistic endeavors and productions, but rather in its more opaque pursuits, those undertaken in the shadows.  In Idle Pursuits (2003), for instance, she did not set out to investigate the busy professional reality of the hommes de lettres in France’s Fourth Estate, but rather their investments in an alternative economy of prestige: not what they did (their work), but rather their art of idleness practiced in the shadow of their public lives.  Witchcraft, Demonology, and Confession (2015) examines the methods employed by demonologists, specialists in the early modern “science of demons,” without neglecting the point of view of the “witch”– someone denounced by neighbors and interpellated to speak as a witch in the course of an early modern trial for witchcraft.  Her current project, The Rise of the Novel in Early Modern France examines a genre occupying an elusive place in the literary landscape of the time insofar as it fell outside the purview of classical poetics and rhetoric.  With no constituted “theory of the novel” in Renaissance France, the early novel emerged in a literary no-man’s land.  Forever in the shadow of epic but without the recognition and stature of this most prestigious of genres, the early novel was free to invent itself as it went along, offering new terrain for writers interested in experimental fictions.

In all of her books, completed and in progress, Krause turns her critical gaze to oblique, dimly lit places, not out of fascination for the arcane or obscure, but because for the early modern period, what we know is vastly outweighed by what remains unknown. She seeks new answers to old questions: what social stratum produced France’s literary elite (Idle Pursuits), what drove the infernal machine of the early modern witch-hunts (Witchcraft, Demonology, and Confession) and in what cultural and literary terrain was the early novel able to take root (The Rise of the Novel).  But she also seeks new questions: what cultural capital was produced through idleness, what forms of subjectivity were possible in an early modern trial for witchcraft, how were the mechanics of the early novel practiced.  This period is for her a labyrinth and shifting the gaze away from dominant paradigms opens new paths of inquiry.

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Jennifer Spinks

Jenny Spinks joined the University of Melbourne in 2017 as Hansen Senior Lecturer in History. She teaches and researches the history of early modern Europe, with a particular focus on Germany, France, and the Low Countries. Her teaching often utilises material culture and visual images, and she has a special interest in connecting students to historical resources in the community. Jenny currently researches early modern polemical print culture, religious conflicts, disasters and wonders, and the history of emotions. She is working on the ways that Protestants and Catholics across early modern northern Europe circulated, exchanged and reinvented reports of terrifying and extraordinary events like floods, earthquakes and cases of extreme cruelty, and has a project in development about sixteenth-century European fears of the supernatural on a global scale. Jenny has particular expertise in the use of visual images as historical sources, and this is a feature of the way that her research connects with a broader public. Her community engagement activities include co-curated exhibitions on early modern apocalyptic and supernatural beliefs. Jenny’s previous positions include a permanent post in History at the University of Manchester (2012-2017), and prior to that several years as an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow (teaching and research) at the University of Melbourne. She has held research fellowships with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, the Warburg Institute in London, the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. She has also been awarded research funding by the Australian Research Council in Australia and the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK.

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Debra Higgs Strickland

Debra Higgs Strickland is Senior Lecturer in History of Art in the School of Culture and Creative Arts at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, UK, where she teaches course on medieval and early modern art.  Her research examines the foundational presence of non-humans and non-Christians in medieval and early modern visual cultures, with special interests in illuminated manuscripts and early printed books, bestiaries, eschatological traditions, and the painting of Hieronymus Bosch. Her major publications include Medieval Bestiaries: Text, Image, Ideology (1995), The Mark of the Beast: The Medieval Bestiary in Art, Life, and Literature (1999); Saracens, Demons, and Jews: Making Monsters in Medieval Art (2003); and The Epiphany of Hieronymus Bosch: Imagining Antichrist and Others from the Middle Ages to the Reformation (2016) ( Her work in progress includes a new book-length study on Bosch’s Monsters.

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Wes Williams

Wes Williams’ main research interests are in the field of Renaissance and/or early modern literature; he has written a book on pilgrimage writing, and continues to explore travel narratives of various kinds across the period. He is now writing a book on monsters and their meanings from, roughly, Rabelais to Racine (by way of Shakespeare, Montaigne and a few others). He also works on European film, and in the theatre as a writer and director.

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