MGA English Professors Publish "Monsters of Film, Fiction, and Fable"

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018 12:00 AM
Categories: Faculty/Staff | College of Arts and Sciences | Pressroom

Cochran, GA

L-R are MGA English faculty members Crystal O'Leary-Davidson, Mary Ann "Mert" Gareis, and Lisa Wenger Bro with a copy of their new "Monsters" book. Photo by Peter Gareis.

A newly published book by three members of Middle Georgia State University's English department is pretty monstrous.

And that's exactly how they intended it to be. 

Cambridge Scholars Publishing just released "Monsters of Film, Fiction, and Fable: The Cultural Links Between the Human and Inhuman," a collection of academic articles edited by MGA English faculty members Dr. Lisa Wenger Bro, Dr. Crystal O'Leary-Davidson, and Mary Ann Gareis.

In addition to editing the 412-page tome, Bro, O'Leary-Davidson, and Gareis contributed articles, as did three other Middle Georgia State English faculty: Dr. Chris Cairney, Rhonda Crombie, and Dr. Shane Trayers. The rest of the book's essays were contributed by faculty from various other colleges and universities.

Bro came up with the idea that led to the book featuring scholarly work addressing how deeply embedded monsters are in our history, mythos, and culture. Several years ago, she, O'Leary-Davidson, and Gareis put together a "Literary Monsters" panel for the annual conference of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association, an organization of teachers, scholars, and graduate students dedicated to the advancement of literary and linguistic scholarship and teaching in the modern languages.

"I was really interested in exploring the different cultural aspects connected to contemporary monsters and what those said about society," Bro said. "We put out the call for papers for that first panel discussion and were surprised by the number of responses. We've been doing that particular panel now for six years and we always end up having to turn down submissions of papers because we get so many. Attendance has often been 'standing room only' at the panel discussions. Obviously, there's something about monsters that speak to people."

Apparently, monsters also speak to publishing companies because several began reaching out to Bro and the others to talk about putting together an edited collection of the scholarly essays presented at the panel discussions or elsewhere.

"Several years, nineteen essays, and slightly over 400 pages later, I guess we gave birth to some monsters," Bro said.

The resulting collection of academic articles covers an array of nightmare-inducing topics, including these by MGA faculty:

  • "Killing Tinker Bell: Re-Mythologizing the Fey in a Technocentric Age" by Lisa Wenger Bro.
  • "That Time of the Month: The Female Werewolf in Cinema" by Crystal O’Leary-Davidson.
  • "Embracing Collapse: Our Uneasy Love Affair with 'The Walking Dead'" by Mary Ann Gareis.
  • "You Are What You Eat: Smart Zombies in Literature and Film" by Shane Trayers.
  • "What Happens When the Body’s Gone? The Trans/Posthuman in Science Fiction and Urban Fantasy" by Lisa Wenger Bro.
  • "The De-Evolution of Humanity in 'The Walking Dead'" by Rhonda Crombie.
  • "Other Dragons or Dragon Others? A Cultural View of the Loch Ness Monster" by Christopher Cairney.
  • "From Whore to Madonna: The Evolution of the Female Vampire" by Tracie Provost.

In the book's introduction, Bro wrote, "While monsters might seem like a pop culture phenomenon that ebbs and flows with people’s changing tastes and whims, they are, in fact, much more, as their enduring presence across centuries of myth, legend, fiction, and film indicates. The literal monsters are signposts; in their marked distinction, they highlight our fears and our desires, getting at the root of the ideas, for better or worse, that shape identities, ideologies, and lives."

"Monsters" is available through Amazon. As a collection of academic articles, it is pricier than more mainstream books. However, Bro said a copy is currently available at Middle Georgia State's Cochran Campus library.The editors hope to place copies at the libraries of the University's other campuses, too.