ISBN-10:
1481308823
ISBN-13:
9781481308823
Pub. Date:
07/15/2018
Publisher:
Baylor University Press
Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting / Edition 2

Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting / Edition 2

by W. Scott PooleW. Scott Poole
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Overview

Monsters arrived in 2011—and now they are back. Not only do they continue to live in our midst, but, as historian Scott Poole shows, these monsters are an important part of our past—a hideous obsession America cannot seem to escape.

Poole’s central argument in Monsters in America is that monster tales intertwine with America’s troubled history of racism, politics, class struggle, and gender inequality. The second edition of Monsters leads readers deeper into America’s tangled past to show how monsters continue to haunt contemporary American ideology.

By adding new discussions of the American West, Poole focuses intently on the Native American experience. He reveals how monster stories went west to Sand Creek and Wounded Knee, bringing the preoccupation with monsters into the twentieth century through the American Indian Movement. In his new preface and expanded conclusion, Poole’s tale connects to the present—illustrating the relationship between current social movements and their historical antecedents. This proven textbook also studies the social location of contemporary horror films, exploring, for example, how Get Out emerged from the context of the Black Lives Matter movement. Finally, in the new section "American Carnage," Poole challenges readers to assess what their own monster tales might be and how our sordid past horrors express themselves in our present cultural anxieties.

By the end of the book, Poole cautions that America’s monsters aren’t going away anytime soon. If specters of the past still haunt our present, they may yet invade our future. Monsters are here to stay.

Editorial Reviews

American Studies - Nicole K. Konopka

Monsters in America is an important contribution, and it will be enjoyed by literary and cultural historians alike.

The Crawlspace

Poole... has set the bar ridiculously high for any future research exploring the locus of historical and cultural studies, particularly as it pertains to the horrific.... Monsters In America challenges, enlightens, and, quite honestly, frightens in its prescient view of American history, as well as the seeming ubiquity of the monsters of our past and probable future.

American Historical Review - Elizabeth Young

Monsters in America is lively and entertaining throughout. The book's unusual range is one of its contributions; its freshness of juxtaposition is another.

Journal of Religion and Popular Culture - Christopher James Blythe

Historian W. Scott Poole distinguishes himself by focusing on the American context, providing a history told through the personified expressions of our anxieties and fears. In the follow-up to his first book, Satan in America, Poole has now turned his attention to the monsters that inhabit American cinema and American imaginations.

John W. Morehead

Poole's connection of the monster to American history is a kind of Creature Features meets American cultural history. Here we not only meet such monsters but also discover America's cultural monstrosity.

Nova Religio - Aaron John Gulyas

[Poole’s] book is sufficiently clear and engaging for general readers to enjoy and would make a worthwhile addition to undergraduate course in American history or culture.

Fangoria - Dave Canfield

... one of the best reads of the year.

Pop Theology - J. Ryan Parker

Numerous scholars explore the cultural and political implications of monster and horror films for the times from which they emerge.... Few scholars connect such implications across broader expanses of time to reveal how intrinsically monsters and the horrific have been bound up in the history of America. Even fewer scholars do so as adeptly and as entertainingly as W. Scott Poole.

Publishers Weekly

From 19th century sea serpents to our current obsession with vampires and zombies, history professor Poole (Satan in America) plots America’s past through its fears in this intriguing though not always convincing or original sociocultural history. Poole abstains from offering a single definition of “monster,” allowing various meanings to develop in historical context, as with the alleged sea beast that terrorized Gloucester, Mass., in 1817 or the shape-shifting spirit Deer Woman, described in Sallie Southweall Cotton’s 1901 poem “The White Doe.” Poole is best when focusing on the social impact of those considered monsters, many of the human variety—such as the subjects of racial intolerance and the perception of African-Americans, particularly male, as “monstrous beasts” who had to be destroyed at any cost, often by thousand-person lynch mobs. The 20th century is dealt with as a predictable series of film genres—WWII monster films, body snatchers, deranged serial killers, and a return to vampires of all shapes and sizes. But given Poole’s argument that “he monster has its tentacles wrapped around the foundations of American history,” his loose definition of “monster” shows its weakness: while studying fantasy monsters can illuminate real fears, they don’t equate with the demonization of actual humans of certain races or classes. 24 b&w illus. (Oct.)

Slug - Amanda Rock

A captivating read...

Jenn's Bookshelves

... incredibly rewarding and fulfilling reading.... Monsters in America has without a doubt earned a spot on my favorite books of 2011. Highly recommended.

From the Publisher


"... one of the best reads of the year."
--Dave Canfield, Fangoria

"From 19th century sea serpents to our current obsession with vampires and zombies, ... Poole plots America's past through its fears in this intriguing ...sociocultural history."
--Publishers Weekly

"Poole ... has set the bar ridiculously high for any future research exploring the locus of historical and cultural studies, particularly as it pertains to the horrific. ... Monsters In America challenges, enlightens, and, quite honestly, frightens in its prescient view of American history, as well as the seeming ubiquity of the monsters of our past and probable future."
--The Crawlspace

"A well informed, thoughtful, and indeed frightening angle of vision to a persistent and compelling American desire to be entertained by the grotesque and the horrific."
--Gary Laderman, Professor of American Religious History and Cultures, Emory University

"Poole brings to life American horror stories by framing them within folk belief, religion, and popular culture, broadly unraveling the idea of the monster. Thanks to Poole's insights we see the ubiquity of the monster lurking in and around us."
--John David Smith, Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of American History, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481308823
Publisher: Baylor University Press
Publication date: 07/15/2018
Edition description: second edition
Pages: 335
Sales rank: 196,921
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

"The American past reads like something of a horror movie, maybe even a low-budget slasher. American history comes at us dripping with gore, victims lying scattered on the ground, eldritch moonlight revealing creeping horrors you never learned from your eighth grade history textbook. The history of the United States offers a chamber of horrors, with clergy transforming the Native American other into demonic beings, mad scientists turning state-funded laboratories into torture chambers, and the photographic revolution of the Victorian era turning toward a morbid fascination with the bodies of the dead and the creation of the category of 'gore.' History is horror."

—excerpted from the Introduction

Customer Reviews