“Death! He shuddered at the idea--and yet he never sought to escape from its presence by conversation or books. He sat moodily brooding upon death and what would probably occur hereafter, until he conjured up to his imagination all the phantasmagorical displays of demons, spectres, and posthumous horrors ever conceived by human mind.” --George W. M. Reynolds, The Mysteries of London
Many of our iconic monsters can be traced back to Victorian England’s literary culture. The nineteenth century was a period of rapid change--a time of scientific discovery, industrialization, consumer growth, and colonial power. The country’s anxieties surrounding these changes were reflected in the popular literature it produced and consumed. In this class we will look at some of these famous (and not so famous) monster figures and trace their afterlives in contemporary texts through horror, mystery, and mashup genres. While thinking about what it means to be a “monster” (in Victorian terms and our own), we will also consider how Victorian monsters engaged with questions of class, gender, race, and materiality.