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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of women of color in the academy, the media framing of alleged Aurora shooter James Holmes, the use of monstrosity in unpublished work from the Gloria Anzaldúa archives, post-feminist discourses in American Mary and The Lords of Salem, and Kanye West’s strategic employment of ideologies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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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Calafell, Bernadette Marie, author. Monstrosity, performance, and race in contemporary culture / Bernadette Marie Calafell. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Monsters in mass media. 2. Monsters—Symbolic aspects. 3. Race. 4. Feminism. 5. Performance. 6. Civilization, Modern—21st century. I. Title. P96.M6C35 791.43’67—dc23 201502539 ISBN 978-1-4331-2738-0 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-4331-2737-3 (paperback) ISBN 978-1-4539-1719-0 (e-book)

Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

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