For your first Blogpost of the semester, I’d like to do a few simple things to get you thinking about the assigned reading for 1/25, and also to do some additional work with the important “monster theory” of Jeffrey Jerome Cohen. So, for this first test-run on the course blog, I’d like you to do two specific things (which should amount to at least two robust paragraphs overall):
1) In his chapter on “The Plinian Races,” John Block Friedman makes some interesting comments about the (supposed) monsters of the ancient world, particularly from the perspective of the Greeks. He includes a variety of examples of human groups (from India and Ethiopia) who are understood (or, rather, misunderstood) by ancient authors as having mysterious, monstrous qualities. He also offers some analysis of these beings, and draws some interesting conclusions about them. For part one of your Blogpost, then, I’d simply like you to offer a specific quotation from Friedman’s discussion that you feel is especially interesting or important. Then, discuss it by explaining what, specifically, is so intriguing about your chosen quote? Why does it seem so noteworthy as a window into the culture (and monsters) of ancient Greece and Rome (or India and Ethiopia)?
2) For part two of your response, I’d like to do a bit more work with Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s influential essay “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)”. Here, I’d like you to apply ONE of Cohen’s theses to ONE monster outlined by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History. If you apply and use Cohen’s ideas as a way to explore or understand Pliny’s varied discussion of monsters found both on land and in the oceans, what connections or ideas arise by using Cohen’s model? The point here is to further enhance your understanding of Cohen’s complex essay by working closely with it and using it to help you understand another complex piece of monstrous writing.
I’ll be curious to see what you all have to say for this first Blogpost of the semester!!