Exercise 1.3

The aim of this exercise is to summarize “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)” for a reader who has not read the essay.

Estimated time: 1 hour
Due by 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, September 12th

An effective summary helps an unfamiliar reader to accurately understand the main ideas of a piece of writing. Typically, an effective summary includes:

1) the author’s full name
2) the name of the text
3) a description of the author’s analytical project (USEFUL VERBS: explores, examines, analyzes, investigates; NOT USEFUL: says, writes, is about, looks into)
4) one or two quotes of the author’s main point (USEFUL VERBS: argues, asserts, states, proposes, hypothesizes, claims)
5) a paraphrase/explanation/example of the author’s main point (USEFUL PHRASES: for example, for instance, in other words)
6) a brief description of how author supports his/her main idea in the text

Here’s an example of a summary of a 25-page essay called “The Trouble with Wilderness.” Notice that each quotation is put in quotation marks, with page numbers at the end:

In his essay “The Trouble with Wilderness,” William Cronon, Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, asks his readers to “rethink wilderness” (83). He criticizes mainstream environmentalism’s portrayal of wilderness as “sublime,” claiming that these “specific habits of thinking” have actually hindered the modern environmental movement by “underpinning other environmental concerns” (97-99). Cronon claims that this insistence on portraying the wilderness as separate from society inadvertently draws attention away from “most of our serious environmental problems” in “the landscape … that we call home” (103). Thus, he concludes that humankind should refrain from a “dualistic vision in which the human is entirely outside the natural” (97). Instead, he advocates that society be self-conscious of its actions in relation to nature everywhere, not just the locations perceived as the wilderness but also the environment that surrounds and permeates human civilization.

Write a one-paragraph summary of “Monster Culture (Seven Thesis)” following the above guidelines. Even though we have only read up to Thesis IV by now, you know enough about the essay to be able to summarize it. Imagine that you want a freshman who has not read the essay to understand it. Please bring a printed-out (or handwritten, if you will) copy of your summary to our class on Wednesday.

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16 Responses to Exercise 1.3

  1. Raj says:

    In the essay “Monster Culture (Seven Thesis)”, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, professor of English, director of Early Modern Studies Institute at George Washington University. He advise his readers that monster dwells among us. Author investigates monster exist only to be read: etymologically “That which reveals”, “That which warns”. Monster is difference made flesh like Cultural, Political, Racial, Economic, Sexual etc. Cohen claims that “Monster exist among us which is very dangerous and a form that threatens to smash distinctions”. In addition, he asserts that “Monster once escape but reappears in gigantic, new and strong form”. For instance, Native Americans- nonredeemable savages, Jews- bringing plague, Muslims-feeding Serbian children to the animal in the zoo. And political monsters like Richard III- supposed crime(murders), Ronald Reagan- Scandals and crimes. Moreover, monster can be Vampires/Godzilla(fierce)- movies, Yeti- in mountain(dangerous), Alien- Science/movies(villein), Dracula- in movies & novel(demon) and Carmilla- movie/novel(disease of vampire-ism). Thus, he concludes that monsters are our children. They can be hidden away in the recesses of our mind, but they always return and when they come back they bear self knowledge and human knowledge. Then they ask us about race, gender, sexuality and they asks us why we have created them.

  2. In the essay “Monster Culture (Seven Thesis), Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, examines the use of monsters as a tool to express cultural change. Cohen offers “Seven theses toward understanding cultures through the monsters they bear”(4). Cohen states that a monster is an “embodiment of a certain cultural moment- of a time, a feeling, and a place”(4). In the second section Cohen describes the monster as an immortal being, always returning, yet with each incarnation the monster is changed as the cultures that create them change as well. He also examines monsters as being uncategorizable, and the embodiment of difference, which is why so many groups whose values skew from the ordinary have been vilified in history. Groups such as Jewish citizens, Native Americans, and African Americans have been portrayed as savage and monstrous in history. Cohen explains that monsters are also used as a warning against actions that are frowned upon by the cultures in which they are created, as the monster represents a yearning toward the forbidden and taboo. And finally that the monster forces us to examine our place in history, and the cultures that created such monsters, and the significance of the monster in that culture.

  3. Bridget says:

    In this essay “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),”Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, expresses how monsters are perceived. He explains that monsters aren’t always fiction but can be seen in our everyday lives. For example, in Thesis IV, Cohen says, “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, sexual.” What he is emphasizing in this quote, is that monsters can take any shape or form. People judge others by how they look or act and assume they are monsters. People create monsters from things that they don’t understand or know.

  4. Yixiao Chen says:

    There are seven perspectives of Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (author) in the “Monster Culture(Seven Theses)”. In the text, the author proposes that human describe the monster in the multitude of ways. In addition, the monsters are created in many ways, such as cultural, political, racial, economic, sexual. In page 7, “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”. For example, In the middle and late nineteenth Century, the Native Americans have described the “monster”, for political purposes-the destiny could move to the westward of the United States. Therefore, from the various thesis of Cohen, we can argue that the “monster” is the intolerance of human for different purposes about race, gender, sexuality.

  5. christos Kotsonis says:

    In this essay called “Monster Culture (Seven Theses) “ by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen is about how monsters can be used as a tool in our daily life. Cohen talks about the way that an “embodiment of a certain cultural moment of a time, a feeling and a place”(4). The author also states that monsters can represent an economic, sexual or a political figure. In the essay we show the way that Native Americans used the world “monster” to move in to the west part of United States for a better life or for a benefit that they had in mind. Cohen talks about monster but we have to think about the types of monsters and the way that a monster can be used based on the type of economic, sexual or a political type of figure and they way that we are looking at them. Another example that I read in the essay was “Any kind of alterity can be inscribed across the monstrous body, but for the most part monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial, economical, sexual (5)”. The meaning of that line from the author was that a monster can be in so many different types of faces or forms because is based on how people see them, so each monster can be in a different type of shape for each human.

  6. In the essay “Monster Culture (Seven Thesis) by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, examines how monster exist in any different shape in our life. In thesis four,
    The author analyzes the monster lives in any way because they’re different cultural, political, racial, economic, sexual. Cohen claims “ Any kind of alterity can be inscribed across the monstrous body but for the most part monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial economic, sexual.” For example, native Americans in the Manifest Destiny period, they wanted to pursue the better life, so they moved to the west of the United States. Therefore, monsters may be created to explain some unusual phenomenon happened in human’s life to represent some dark events. They can present in many difference types depending on how we judge them.

  7. Irene Macias says:

    In the essay “Monster Culture”, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, examines how monsters live within us and are used as a tool in our day to day life. In his essays he talks about how monsters aren’t just fictional, but they are also living within us and looked as scary because of its cultural changes. The author examines that monsters change but never leave, such as cultural, political, racial, economic and sexual, all this things are always changing but never leaving. Cohen claims that monsters are made to justify injustices that people have committed such as : “The most famous distortion occurs in the Bible, where the aboriginal inhabitants of Canaan are envisioned as menacing giants to justify the Hebrew colonization of the Promised Land. Representing an anterior culture as monstrous justifies its displacement or extermination by rendering the act of heroic”(7-8). Cohen also talks about how ignorant people used to be, they made up all this stories to back up their inhumanities towards different colored people. According to Cohen: “Dark skin was associated with the fires of hell, and so signifies in Christian mythology demonic provenance”(10). For this reason the seven thesis of Cohen , argue that “monsters” are the fear of human beings being different, the change scares then so we make stories to justify our means without really understanding what being a monster actually stands for.

  8. In Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s essay, “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” he explores the idea that monsters appear within us and around us in different forms and how they are connected to the differences within cultures. Cohen states, “The monster is born only at this metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment- of a time, a feeling, and a place” (4). Cohen proposes the idea that monsters are around us because of the cultural changes and differences we, as a society, experience. ” In thesis IV, Cohen states, “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” (7). Cohen supports this idea by using real-life situations that have happened throughout history such as, “Dark skin was associated with the fires of hell” (10), and that lead to people seeing others who had dark skin as monsters because of the difference in their skin. He also mentions how Native Americans were made out to look like savages so that the United States could pursue their push to take over their land without feeling the repercussions of their actions (8). Cohen’s essay overall explores the idea that monsters are created by people through their fear of change and others being different from what is considered “normal” in society at that moment in time.

  9. Amber says:

    In this essay “Monster Culture (Seven Thesis)”, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen analyzes the different monsters of today. Cohen stated “We live in an age that has rightly given up on Unified Theory, an age when we realize that history is composed of a multitude of fragments.” For example, he goes through racial differences when speaking about Ethiopians and the Irish. Cultural when speaking on the Native Americans moving west of the US. Political when he spoke about Ronald Reagan and the “monstrous history.” Economical with technological efficiency and lastly sexual when he speak on heterosexuality and hermaphrodites. These five categories; Cultural, Political, Racial, Economical, and sexual, make up todays societies and he’s explaining in these articles how they make up to be monsters.

  10. Sherin Azad says:

    In thesis 4 of “Monster Culture/Seven Theses”, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen discusses his ideology on the affects of “monsters” in terms of cultural differences. Through the historical tales of these monsters, there are times in which they are forgotten but we see a common reoccurrence in one form or another. For example, Bosnian Serbs telling reporters that the Muslims are feeding Serbian children to the animals in the zoo, Native Americans being depicted as savages or that the skins of Ethiopians were scorched by sin and vice rather than the sun. In many cases, cultural differences take up a figurative embodiment in the form of a monster.

  11. Brian Fong says:

    In Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s essay, “Monsters Culture (Seven Theses)”, he analyzes and examines why monsters live among us. “Each time the grave opens and the unquiet slumberer strides forth (“come from the dead,/Come back to tell you all”), the message proclaimed is transformed by the air that gives its speaker new life.” The author states this as a meaning to other readers that monsters do not die, they come back to teach us why they exist among us and how they tell the tale (5). Also, Cohen states that monsters live among us differently because of culture changes among other people. “Dark skin was associated with the fires of hell, and so signified in Christian mythology demonic provence” (10). Cohen emphasized that people with darker skin are monsters because of the different skin color that they have. The five categories that we have learned which are, cultural, political, racial, economical, and sexual make up todays societies and how itseparates us from the monsters.

  12. Moshe says:

    In the essay “Monster Culture (Seven Thesis)”, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (Cohen), professor of English, director of Early Modern Studies Institute at George Washington University, asks the reader to collide the fantasy world with reality. Cohen states, “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 other words, Cohen wants to develop the idea that the only way humans and monsters distinguish between one another is through cultural, political, racial, economic, and sexual perspectives. However, later in the essay, Cohen introduces some examples of how some actions demonstrate the inner monstrous behavior. Such as the Native Americans having the nonredeemable savages, Jews bringing the plagues, Muslims feeding Serbian children to the animals in the zoo. All these traditions and religious aspects of humans demonstrate ,according to Cohen, monstrous behavior. Cohen extrapolated on the theory that humans are a much more “new and strong form” of monsters.

  13. Jackeline says:

    In “Monster Culture(Seven Thesis)” Jefferey Jerome Cohen examines seven separate features pertaining to a monsters appearance, character or representation. First Cohen argues that monsters are always symbols and representations of cultures; “The monstrous body is culture…it (the monster) is always a displacement, always inhibits the gap between the time of upheaval that created it and the moment into which it is received, to be born again.”(4) Fittingly titled “ The Monster Always Escapes” Cohens second thesis proposes that the monstrous being is basically immortal “we see the damage that the monster wreaks, the material remains( the footprints of the yeti across Tibetan snow, the bones of the giant stranded on a rocky cliff) but the monster itself turns immortal and vanishes to reappear somewhere else”(4) he connects this culturally by examining vampires. They appear as far back as ancient Egypt and as recent as now with Dracula. Cohen observes that in each of these vampire stories the undead returns in slightly different clothing to be read against contemporary, social movements(6). In his third thesis Cohen describes a monster as dangerous, a form suspended between forms that threatens to smash distinctions. He explains that the immortal beings are a mixed category and “resists any classification built on hierarchy or a merely binary opposition, demanding instead a ‘system’ allowing polyphony, mixed response (difference in sameness, repulsion in attraction, and resistance in integration…”(7) Fourthly, Cohen explains that monsters are made up of ideas that are perceived as outside the norm; They are different culturally, sexually, racially, economically or politically. For example the people of Canaan, Jews, Ethiopians, homosexuals, native Americans, King Richard II were all portrayed as monstrous to justify, or portray their unfair treatment or extermination as a heroic act. In essence Cohen entices the reader to examine monsters; “The monstrous offers an escape from the hermetic path, an invitation to explore new spirals, new interconnected methods of perceiving the world.”

  14. Hedy Chou says:

    In Jeffery Cohen’s essay “Monster Culture,” Cohen explores the idea of monsters and what they do to our society. Monsters aren’t just made for entertainment, they are created to “signify something other than it self”(4). Monsters in general inflict fear within us, don’t fit into society and cause trouble and inflict destruction “so the monster and all that it embodies must be exiled or destroyed”(16). However monsters aren’t just fictional characters, monsters can be ” expedient representations of other cultures”(15). Cohen then explains that this promotes the idea the idea of “group sameness”. This idea puts boundaries around people within a society, where you’d most likely be ostracized for having similar traits as the “monster”. This prevents people from stepping out side the line and instead conforming within a society. To step out of line, to be different ” is to risk attack by border patrol or become monstrous oneself”(12). Monsters can come from just about anywhere, it all depends on what a person fears or dislike. Therefore monsters can change, adapt, and come from just about anywhere.

  15. Sumra Din says:

    In the essay “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)” the author, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, uses various ideas to describe monsters as they exist in our history, society, and culture. He starts with the monster’s body which is not only immortal, but also originates from fear, anxiety and fantasy. The death of the monster is a temporary phenomenon, followed by the rebirth. Cohen uses the term “the Vampire” and “homophobia” to emphasize on certain characteristics of monsters as found in historical literature. He traces their existence from the ancient Egypt. He believes that “Monster theory” is bound by strings of cultural moments and is never constant. He calls it a threat and describes it as a category crisis. That basically means that one cannot categorize monsters because of their everchanging nature. The don’t follow normality or a boundary. Or fit any systematic definition. One can only differentiate them on bases of culture, politics, ethnicity, economy and sex. He gives historical examples of how Jews were thought to bring plague to bleeding Christian children. And Muslims who were feeding Serbian children to zoo animals per newspaper articles. Or how Dark skin was associated with demonic nature and sin and sinners could be compared to Ethiopians. In one of his theses, He talks about dragons of Orient and dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. That one might find curiosity as punishing rather than being rewarding. That’s why one feels safer staying in a confined sphere to avoid risks of being exposed to a monster and being attacked by him. But monsters are not meant to be only scary. One may find monsters attractive and desirous. As Cohen said, “We distrust and loathe the monster at the same time we envy its freedom”. He concludes his essay by highlighting the immortality of monsters again. That they can be pushed and hidden away to the farthest margins of the world. But monsters always return. And ask us why we have created them.

  16. Xinmiao Xu says:

    In the article “Monster Culture(Seven Theses), Jeffrey Jerome Cohen claims that monsters are not only fictional but also living with us in the real life. The author explores the connection between the monster and cultural to proves that monsters are created by human’s fear and anxiety of unknown and difference. The author gives several examples of “monster” in history to illustrate people resist “different cultural, political, racial, economic, sexual”(7), they named it monster and target them. For instance, “in the Bible, where the aboriginal inhabitants of Canaan are envisioned as menacing giants to justify the Hebrew colonization of the Promised Land. Representing an anterior culture as monstrous justifies its displacement or extermination by rendering the act heroic. And in medieval France the… celebrated the crusades by transforming Muslims into demonic caricatures whose menacing lack of humanity was readable from their bestial attribute”(7-8). They attack different race, cultural and even gender in order to “declare that curiosity is more often punished than rewarded, that one is better off safely contained within one’s own domestic sphere than abroad.”(12). Jeffery Jerome Cohen through the example of the first werewolf Lycaon to argue that “people made the monster stands as a warning against the exploration of its uncertain demesnes.”(12) Moreover, the author also states that monster has an attractive force that tempts people into forbidden practice and taboos. “We envy its freedom, and perhaps its sublime despair.”(17) In sum, the ” monster culture(seven theses)” proposes that monsters are created by the human’s fear of unknown and difference but what is normal are also always being considered.

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