Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 Hours. 10 x 2 hour lectures, which will include discussions with students, video extracts and student problem-solving exercises.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 3,000 word research essay  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Seen written examination  50%
Supplementary Assessment RESIT  Resit on condoned (medical) grounds arising from non-completion of examination or coursework involves the completion of the missing component(s) for the full range of marks on dates set in the Supplementary Examination period. Resit due to aggregate failure or non-completion of part of the assessment requires re-examination of each of the main components if marks of <40% in both were obtained, or re-examination or re-submission of the failed component (examination or assignment) to obtain a maximum mark of 40% for the module. A new exam paper and/or research essay assignment will be set as appropriate.  

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

* Appreciate the manner in which knowledge is produced, diffused and consumed within particular social contexts over time and across space.

* Critically evaluate a range of theoretical writings on the history and character of modernity as manifest in geography, philosophy and scientific thought.

* Discuss the interconnection between modernism's grid epistemology and the production of monstrous ideas, practices and entities.

* Critically evaluate the bodies of thought and practice which are effaced or excluded within prevailing, Western discourses of reason and rationality.

* Demonstrate their competence in undertaking independent research, and constructing a written argument through the completion of an essay and examination.

* Critically evaluate a range of written, visual and aural source materials; discussing the significance of these sources with their peers and communicating their views to the class.

Brief description

This module introduces the world of the monstrous to geography students, paying particular attention to issues of inclusion and exclusion, the construction of monstrous landscapes and the making of modern-day monsters to inhabit them. 'Monsters' have become an intriguing subject of academic inquiry from a range of disciplines, including Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Biology and Cartography as well as Geography. Long dismissed as religious or occult inspired imaginaries, it has become evident that such entities are very much a part of the social context within which they operate. Indeed, a number of academics have declared the 'monstrous' to be a relatively recent phenomena, in the sense that this semiotically-laden term emerged as the necessary 'constitutive outside' of a Western, modern science, wherein a purified, rationally-based form of truth-finding developed at the expense of non-materialist understandings of the world, namely religion and the occult. In the process, a 'deconstructive' reassessment of the history of science has recently begun, pointing to instances wherein a modernist desire to categorise ideas, practices and things has proceeded through the simultaneous rejection of the anomalous, the hybrid and the ambiguous; in other words, we are witness to increasing inquiry into the manner in which modernity makes, and subsequently lives with, its own monsters.

From this initial introduction to the world of the monstrous, the module goes on to explore particular aspects of it, dwelling on the social context within which the expulsion of those ideas and practices deemed to be 'monstrous' proceeded as well as specific examples of entities deemed to be 'monstrous' from strange beasts in the French countryside and the disembodied voices of early telephone users to crypto-animals and a new crop of cyborg citizens. The lectures are formed around key, largely chronological themes - Enlightenment Wars, Victorian Inquiry, Fortean Times, Out of Place/ Out of Scale and Popular Culture - which are illustrated via in-depth case studies.


Lecture One: Introduction to the Module: Modernity and its Many Monsters
Lecture Two: Enlightenment Wars: Philosophy, Religion and Magic
Lecture Three: Case Studies: French Revolutionary Politics and the 'Beast of Gevaudan'; English Theology and the Conjuring of Spirits
Lecture Four: Victorian Inquiring Minds: The Emergence of Modern Science
Lecture Five: Case Studies: Mesmer, Influence and the Scientific Method; Experimenting with Electricity
Lecture Six: Fortean Times: The Production of Monstrous Knowledges
Lecture Seven: Case Studies: British Metaphysics and the Strange Career of Alistair Crowley; American 'Alien' Anxieties and the 'Mothman'
Lecture Eight: Out of Place/ Out of Scale: The Making of Monsters
Lecture Nine: Case Studies: Hidden Animals; Cyborg Citizens
Lecture Ten:Monsters and Popular Culture: From Frankenstein to Most Haunted

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students may draw upon and analyse numerical information in their assessed essays.
Communication The module will help students to develop their written and oral communication skills. Class discussions will enable students to develop their oral communication skills, and the assessed essay and examination will enable students to practice and enhance their written communication skills.
Improving own Learning and Performance Student attendance and participation in the lectures, and their undertaking of an assessed essay, will help them to enhance a range of learning skills. The module requires students to undertake sixty hours of self-directed study.
Information Technology The assessed essay requires students to undertake independent research using bibliographic search-engines and library catalogues. The module will enable students to enhance their research skills and practise their IT skills when writing the essay.
Personal Development and Career planning The module will help students to develop key transferable skills, in addition to raising important questions about the histories and geographies of Britain which will help them to think about their role as citizens within society. The course discusses themes which will be invaluable for students wishing to undertake postgraduate study in geography.
Problem solving The module will develop students¿ problem-solving skills in a number of ways. Students will be required to discuss and analyse a range of visual texts, and to complete small problem-solving exercises during the lectures. Students will also have to address problems associated with research design when undertaking their assessed essay.
Research skills Students are required to undertake independent research for their essay which will draw upon and enhance skills they have developed in previous modules. Further research skills will be developed through class-based discussions and problem-solving exercises and further reading they undertake.
Subject Specific Skills The module will enable students to practice subject-specific skills which they have developed in years one and two, including techniques for analyzing historical and cultural texts. Students will develop their analytical skills through class-based discussions and in their assessed essay and examination.
Team work The lectures will include class-based problem-solving exercises and discussions which will provide opportunities for students to develop team-working skills and discuss their thoughts with the class.

Reading List

Essential Reading
Adorno, T. (Ed. S. Crook) (1994) The Stars Down to Earth and Other Essays on the Irrational in Culture Routledge: New York Primo search Brown, M.F. (1997) The Channeling Zone: American Spirituality in an Anxious Age Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Primo search Davis, E. (1998) Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information. Harmony Books: New York Primo search Foucault, M. (1999) Abnormal. Picador: New York Primo search Freud, S. ((1925 reprinted) The Uncanny. London: Penguin Classis. Primo search Law, J. (ed.) (1991) Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology and Domination. Routledge: New York Primo search Malinowski, B. ((1925 reprinted) ?Magic, Science and Religion,? in Magic, Science and Religion and Other Essays (Ed. R. Redfield). pp 17-92 Glencoe Ill: Free Press Primo search Marie Leroy, A. (2005) Mutants: On the Form, Varieties and Errors of the Human Body. Perennial: New York Primo search Mauss, M. ((1902 reprinted) A General Theory of Magic. Routledge: London Primo search Schmidt, L.E. (2002) Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion and the American Enlightenment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Primo search Styers, R. (2004) Making Magic: Religion, magic and science in the modern world. OUP: Oxford Primo search Thurschwell, P. (2001) Literature, Technology and Magical Thinking, 1880-1920. Cambridge University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6