Exercise 1.2

The aim of this exercise is to better understand “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)” by identifying key terms, topic sentences and main ideas in sections of the essay.

Estimated time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Due by 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, September 5th

Part 1: Reading
Carefully read “Thesis III: The Monster is the Harbinger of Category Crisis” and “Thesis IV: The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference” in “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” Take note of no more than four key terms you encounter in each section. Research and write down their definitions. Also try to write down ideas and questions that you have in response to specific parts of this section. Bring your copy of this essay to class on Wednesday.

Part 2: Writing
In your own copy of “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” underline the topic sentence of each paragraph in Thesis III and Thesis IV. In each section, select the topic sentence that you think expresses the main point. Write out each topic sentence and then explain what each means in your own words. Try to be as specific as possible. Post your response below as a comment to this post. (To be able to post, you need to go to qwriting.org and sign up for an account using your QC email address ending in @qmail.cuny.edu. Once you have an account, join the site by using the link on the right.)

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17 Responses to Exercise 1.2

  1. Bridget says:

    Thesis lll
    “This refusal to participate in the classificatory “order of things” is true of monsters generally: they are disturbing hybrids whose externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration.”

    In this thesis, it is expressing how monsters, in general, are hard to put into categories because of their confusing and mysterious nature. Monsters are created by defying physical and Natural laws. For example, a reptile that survives in space or a human body laying eggs. It defies logic.

    Thesis lV
    “Any kind of alterity can be inscribed across (constructed through) the monstrous body, but for the most part monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial, economical, and sexual.”

    The main point of this thesis is that a monster can be any shape or form. They can appear as anything or anyone. They are discriminated by how they look and because they are different.

  2. Jackeline says:

    Exercise 1.2
    Thesis III
    ‘and so the monster is dangerous, a form suspended between forms that threatens to smash distinction”
    Through-out thesis III Cohen explains time and time again that monsters do not fit categories and therefore can be identified because of this. The sentence above explains the main idea of the whole paragraph by simply summarizing that because a monster resist category, it threatens. In the beginning he incorporates an excerpt from Harvey Greenburg’s Alien which added to his argument; in the excerpt Greenburg describes the alien as a “nightmare, defying every natural law…by turns bivalve, crustacean, reptilian.. Sheds its skin like a snake (but) its carapace like an arthropod.” Cohen further goes about how monsters are disturbing hybrids and continues to use Aristotle’s failed epistemological system to show that the monster always escapes (conceptually that is) because it later returns in other parts of the world. His argument further fortified by mentioning the hermeneutic circle and how a monsters physical differences offer new ways of viewing the world.

    Thesis IV
    “Monster is difference made flesh, come to dwell among us”
    This sentence basically summarizes what Cohen will talk about in future areas of this thesis; “The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference. ” Cohen basically talks about the physical, cultural, racial, economical, political and sexual differences that aren’t typically normal and are consequently seen as monstrous. His argument touches on the fact that monstrous aberration is familiar and represented through out history. He exemplifies this with biblical and historical stories: the inhabitants of Cannon are envisioned as menacing giants to justify the Hebrew colonization, Native Americans were presented as unredeemable savages so that Manifest Destiny could be continued etc. He touches on race when talking about how Africans were viewed from the classical into the twentieth century: skin color set them apart and “…(Africans) were quickly moralized through a pervasive rhetoric of deviance.” For example people began to associate their skin color with the fires of hell and their demonization further justified colonization and enslavement. Violation of political difference has also been a catalyst of monstrous aborition according to Cohen as seen in the demonization of Richard III when people began to exaggerate his raising of his shoulder into a defeaturing/unnatural body.

  3. -In thesis three the sentence that best summarizes this section is; “For by refusing an easy compartmentalization of their monstrous contents, they demand a radical rethinking of boundary and normality.” This means that the depiction of monsters is rooted in making it somehow foreign and in opposition to how we see the world. Whether this means that the creature is an unrecognizable being that we have no real world equivalent to, or that it’s creation is deeply influenced by ideas or beliefs that we generally reject, monsters represent the unknown, and the perverse distortion of what is known.

    -In thesis four, the sentence that best summarizes this section is; ” The monster seeks out it’s author to demand its raison d’etre- and to bear witness to the fact that it could have been constructed otherwise.” This means that the idea behind any monstrous figure created is rooted in some deeper fear or form that the creator of the monster disapproves of. For example the villainization that Jewish people were depicted as by Nazi Germany was rooted in fear and the desire for a scapegoat in order to come to terms with the depressing state Germany was left in after World War I. These depictions of monsters cause us to look closely at them, and analyze the root in ideas and values that they were created through.

  4. Raj says:

    All about thesis III
    “The monster always escapes because it refuses easy categorization.”
    In whole thesis III Cohen repeat time and again about monsters offers to escape from its hermetic path. As per Greenberg: Monsters seems capable of lying dormant within its egg indefinitely. And Aristotle to incorporate that monstrous races always escaped to return to its habitations. So, we can say that monsters evade refuges easy categorisation.

    All about thesis IV
    ”The monster is difference made flesh, come to dwell among us.”
    Monstorous body part tends to be cultural, racial, political, economic and sexual etc. For instance, a recent newspaper article on Yugoslavia reminds that the muslims are feeding Servian children to animal in the zoo, even the story is nonsense. This shows that monster reside among us. In addition, Native Americans were presented as unredeemable savages so that manifest destiny could be continued. Monster also dwells is gender, sexuality, national identity, ethnicity etc.

  5. Sydney Miles says:

    Thesis III:
    “The monster always escapes because it refuses easy categorization”.
    The monster can change form because each person or society views the monster differently from each other.

    Thesis IV:
    “Any kind of alterity can be inscribed across (constructed through) the monstrous body, but for the most part the monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial, economic, sexual”.
    Different cultures,political ideologies, race, gender and class view what a monster can be differently. The French saw Muslims to be threats, so the French categorized Muslims to monsters. Women were viewed as monsters when they threatened societal norms of femininity and Africans were portrayed as monsters because of their dark skin.

  6. Sentence
    “This refusal to participate in the classificatory “order of things” is true of monsters generally: they are disturbing hybrids whose externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration.”

    Meaning
    In thesis III, it is talking about how monsters can never be contained because they cannot be categorized. Monsters cause fear and crisis, but if they were able to be categorized easily, they would not be able to scare or intimidate people. Monsters rely on the fear and crisis they cause for others, so it makes sense that they are very hard to be categorized, or else they would not exist. Monsters are so complex that it is hard to try to contain them and categorize them into something “normal.”

    Sentence
    “Any kind of alterity can be inscribed across (constructed through) the monstrous body, but for the most part monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial, economic, sexual.”

    Meaning
    This thesis is about how “monsters” are different from the norm. In this thesis, a lot of different examples were used to show how people who are “different” from what is considered “normal” in society, are considered to be monsters or made out to look monstrous. This thesis shows how as people we make a lot of monsters up because of the fear of things that are different.

  7. The third thesis:
    “They are disturbing hybrids whose externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration. And so the monster is dangerous, a form suspended between forms that threaten to smash distinctions.”

    Monsters are difficult to categorize them within the various categories. They can be human, animal or something we’ve never seen, so they have the ability to evade their classification easily. Therefore, they’re not fitting into any categories that they resist as a specific species.

    The fourth thesis:
    “Any kind of alternity can be inscribed across (constructed through) the monstrous body, but for the most part monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial, economic, sexual.”

    Monsters exist in many shapes. They are different culturally, sexually, racially, economically, or politically. They’re defined by how they look like the difference. For example, The dark skin color of Ethiopians, terrifying and malformed as it appeared, it also means symptomatic of sinfulness.

  8. Irene Macias says:

    Thesis III
    “And so the monster is dangerous, a form suspended between forms that threatens to smash distinctions.”
    Since monsters terrorize us, because they have the power; this happens because it doesn’t “fit in the order of things”. Anything that causes disorder or chaos is seemed as dangerous.
    These IV
    “Any kind of alterity can be inscribed across (constructed through) the monstrous body, but for the most part monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial, economic, sexual”.
    The monster represents everything that is different and distant from what we represent, and for the most part those differences are shown in films and literatures.

  9. Sherin Azad says:

    Thesis III-
    – “The horizon where the monsters dwell might well be imagined as the visible edge of the hermenuctic circle itself: the monstrous offers an escape from its hermetic path, an invitation to explore new spirals, new and interconnected methods of perceiving the world.”

    – I believe this topic sentence illustrates how the monsters interpret their world, and how they gain their power to explore different paths. Not to mention how the main idea of nothing can get in their way is represented.

    Thesis IV-

    – “From the classical period into the twentieth century, race has been almost as powerful a catalyst to the creation of monsters as culture, gender, and sexuality.”

    – This shows how race affects creation of monsters, as the discrimination against Ethiopian people is a prime example. Shown throughout thesis IV, race is one of the primary catalysts when it comes to the creation of monster. The differences with these factors of gender, culture, sexuality, and even race, overall contributes to the creation of monsters.

  10. Brian Fong says:

    Thesis III
    “The horizon where the monsters dwell might be imagined as the visible edge of the hermeneutic circle itself: the monstrous offers an escape from its hermetic path, an invitation to explore new spirals, new and interconnected method with the world”

    Monsters can come in and out on path that they go on but they can appear anytime they want and want to connect with the world around us.

    Thesis IV:
    The monster is difference made flesh, come to dwell among us.

    What this means is that monsters resembles difference among us whether of culture, race, and ethnicity. Plus, where there monsters dwell among is that they are everywhere but you don’t see them either from nationality or culture.

  11. Hedy Chou says:

    Thesis III
    The horizon where the monsters dwell might well be imagined as the viable edge of the hermetic circle it self.

    Monsters live within our imaginations. Therefore they can come out from anywhere and anytime. Anything can be applied to them, they can fit any description as we desire them to have. Everyone has a different view of what “monsters” can be, so it can be hard to fit all “monsters” in one category.

    Thesis IV
    Monsters are never created, but through process of fragmentation and recombination in which elements are extracted “from various forms” and then assembled as the monster.

    People pick and choose what they want the monster to be. They single out the minor flaw or difference to pick on. What doesn’t fit ones “ideal” description can be targeted as a monster. This is true in many scenarios within race, religion, politics and in society. Our views are skewed by what we consume and how our peers influence us. Most of the time we simply refuse to see from the other party’s point of view and accept what we see in-front of us.

  12. Moshe says:

    Thesis III
    “The monster always escapes because it refuses easy categorization”.
    Jeffrey Jerome Cohen in thesis 3 extrapolates on the main idea of monsters being the harbinger of category crisis. Cohen explains that monsters don’t fall into neat/easy categories that are known to humans, they are simply unnatural. Monsters are defying the logic and knowledge of a human-being leading them to become dangerous.

    Thesis IV
    “Any kind of alterity can be inscribed across (constructed through) the monstrous body, but for the most part monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial, economic, sexual”.
    In thesis 4 Jeffrey Jerome Cohen(Cohen) develops the main idea of monsters dwelling at gates of difference. Readers learn that monsters embody themselves as anti-human like figures that are complete opposites of humans. Cohen introduced the idea of heterosexuality versus homosexuality. Furthermore, readers can conclude that history itself is a monster.

  13. Sumra Din says:

    Thesis III:
    “This refusal to participate in the classificatory “order of things” is true of monsters generally: they are disturbing hybrids whose externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration.” This thesis highlights the aspect of monster classification, the reason behind its return each time. Monsters can’t be classified into distinct categories, structures, or races. As Harvey Greenberg said, “defying every natural law of evolution”, it can’t be rationalized as a particular scientific concept. It follows polyphony rather than a hierarchy. And based on the versatile classifications, resistance to order, and polymorphic nature monsters are considered dangerous and threatful.

    Thesis IV:
    “Any kind of alterity can be inscribed across (constructed through) the monstrous body, but for most part monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial, economic, sexual.” By using various examples from history, Cohen has diversified monsters in terms of norms of society. He has mentioned how religious distortions or representations of a certain kind can be a monstrous depiction. Or how race and ethnicity can be terrifying forms of appearances relating to sin. He also mentioned “monstrous gender” the violation of normal definition of gender and their roles. Since Monsters come into existence by combination of fragments, its identity is independent and free floating. Therefore, it exists as a threat to our culture and society.

  14. Amber says:

    Thesis III: “The monster always escapes because it refuses easy categorization”; “This refusal to participate in the classificatory “order of things” is true of monsters generally.” This explains that basically something that doesn’t follow the rules or as stated order of things then it will be considered a monster. As a society people have to follow laws, rules and regulations. When one does not follow the systematic structure of things than it will be looked at differently.

    Thesis IV: “The exaggeration of cultural difference into monstrous aberration is familiar enough” Which means the differences in other culture and other places / things are far from what one may consider to be normal. “The difficult project of constructing and maintaining gender identity elicits an array of anxious responses throughout culture, producing another impetus to teratogenesis” Which explains how hard it may be to change how reproduction is done; impetus to teratogenesis.

  15. Xinmiao Xu says:

    Thesis III: “This refusal to participate in the classificatory “order of things” is true of monsters generally: they are disturbing hybrids whose externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration.” This thesis points out that why master always escapes and why they refuse to be classificatory. The power of evading and undermine are through the monster’s blood and nature.

    Thesis IV:By revealing that difference is arbitrary and potentially free-floating, mutable rather than essential, the monster threatens to destroy not just individual members of a society, but the very cultural apparatus through which individuality is constituted and allowed. Jerome Cohen using several examples to prove that monster is difference made flesh. They come to destroy not only individual but also the whole culture and the society.

  16. This refusal to participate in the classificatory “order of things” is true of monsters generally: they are disturbing hybrids whose externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration.
    Monsters exist outside of the system that they terrorize this is why they do their deed so well. By going against the established norm of the system they slowly start to shift into their monstrous selves. As the system can no longer explain or understand them it begins to fill in the blanks of the monster workings with anything that seems like it might work. In putting all of this together we see a hybrid being created out of panicked imagination that no longer can fit in the system because it was built to be outside of it.

    The monster is difference made flesh, come to dwell among us. In its function as dialectical other or third-term supplement, the monster is an incorporation of the Outside, the beyond—of all those loci that are rhetorically placed as distant and distinct but originate within.

    The monster is always made of differences. Since this is a monster that we must deal with then there is no point in looking at any similarities, it is outside the system, outside the group. There can be no compromise with something outside the group be they man, machine or monster. To do so would be catastrophic; or so the doomsayers and closed minded would say.

  17. Jahquan Martin says:

    Thesis 3
    “This refusal to participate in the classificatory “order of things” is true of monsters generally: they are disturbing hybrids whose externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration.”

    This means that the whole point of the monsters is to be different. They don’t fit in to any normal categories becausae they were made with that purpose in mind. If they were close enough to humans to be indiscernible then they would lose some of that monster magic.

    Thesis 4

    “Any kind of alterity can be inscribed across (constructed through) the monstrous body, but for the most part the monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial, economic, sexual.”

    Any differences in the monster can be clearly seen from the outside. You don’t need to dig deep to see why the scary monster is different because it looks and acts completely different from a cultural, political, racial, economic, and sexual perspective. This also makes it easier to side against the monster.

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