CSB receives grant to answer the question, 'What is a monster?'

Bookmark and Share

July 22, 2013

The College of Saint Benedict has received a $24,999 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities' Enduring Questions program.

The program awards grants to develop new, interdisciplinary humanities courses that address fundamental and persistent questions. Shane Miller, an associate professor of communication at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, proposed a course on the question, "What is a monster?"

According to Miller, the class - which will be offered during fall semester 2014 - will focus on three interrelated questions:

  • What is a monster? "What makes one, even a human, monstrous?"
  • What cultural anxieties create and sustain our monsters? "How do our monsters reflect and critique the society that produces them?"
  • How should we treat our monsters? "How does the way we choose to deal with our monsters reflect who we are as a people?"

"I intend to offer the class as an Ethics Common Seminar and use primary texts of monsters from a range of historical cultural sources - stories, both oral and printed, film, paintings, medical texts, etc. - to raise and explore ethical issues inherent in the answers we give to the question, 'What is a monster?' " Miller said. 

The grant period began May 1, and is the second award CSB has received from the program. Emily Esch, assistant professor of philosophy at CSB and SJU, received an award in 2011 and developed a course titled "Souls, Selves and Persons." The course, which will be taught during fall semester 2013 and spring semester 2014, asks the question, "What am I?"

In the last five annual competitions, the Enduring Questions program received an average of 193 applications per year. The program granted an average of 19 awards per year, for a funding ratio of approximately 10 percent.

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website story do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.