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Monstrosity, Performance, and Race in Contemporary Culture

Bernadette Marie Calafell

In a society that increasingly touts post-racial and post-feminist discourses, the trope of monstrosity becomes a way to critically examine contemporary meanings around race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability. Focusing on ways in which historically marginalized groups appropriate monstrosity as a means of resistance, as well as on how we can understand oppression and privilege through monstrosity, this book offers another way to conceptualize the politics of representation. Through critical analyses of experiences of women of color in the academy, the media framing of alleged Aurora shooter James Holmes, the use of monstrosity in unpublished work from the Gloria Anzaldúa archives, post-feminist discourses in American Mary and The Lords of Salem, and Kanye West’s strategic employment of ideologies of monstrosity, this book offers new ways to think about Otherness in this contemporary moment.
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Several people have been responsible for helping this project reach fruition. Conversations with, suggestions from, and the insights from the scholarship of Kendall Phillips and Joshua Gunn encouraged me to start writing. My undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in my Monsters in Popular Culture and Feminist Horror in the 2000s seminars at the University of Denver helped me refine my understandings and approach to monstrosity. While each of them was important in this project, I am particularly thankful to Sergio Juarez, Haneen Al-Ghabra, Brendan Hughes, Charles Lulevitt, Jaime Guzmán, Raisa Alvarado Uchima, Shadee Abdi, Robert Gutierrez-Perez, Miranda Olzman, Amanda Meise, Melodee Sova, Stephanie Webb, and Michael Xiang Li for their enthusiastic support and inspiration. Miranda Olzman offered a great deal of help in gathering and organizing materials from the Gloria Anzaldúa Archives. Thank you to Paula Martin for her friendship, kindness, and endless assistance. I am grateful to members of my writing group including Elizabeth Suter, Mary Claire Morr-Serewicz, Erin Willer, Nicole Nicotera, and Michele Hanna for their encouragement and accountability in completing this project. Thank you to my Department Chair, Christina Foust, for encouraging this project. Deb Ortega and the Denver University Latina/o Center for Community Engagement and Scholarship provided financial resources to aid in my visit to the Gloria Anzaldúa Archives in Austin, Texas. ← ix | X →

Several colleagues and friends were instrumental in encouraging this project whether they know it or not, including Amira De La Garza, Fatima Zahrae Chrifi Alaoui,...

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