Taming of the Creature: The Societal Evolution of the Monster

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type




First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Monsters from folktales and myths have existed since the beginning of human civilization, doing the job of creating the confines of what society deems acceptable by scaring us with what is not. They evolve along with us, providing us with entertainment, fears and even desires. But as our society progresses towards a more inclusive ideal, the meaning of the word "normal" is quickly becoming broader and broader. As such, studying the evolution of monsters can show how society now envisions what we consider "abnormal" and what we now fear. While most research on monsters focuses solely on the content analysis of stories and interpreting the meaning of an author, there is little to no research that uses qualitative interviews to find general views on contemporary depictions of monsters. This project uses a combination of content analysis and viewer reception to investigate the changing ways in which we relate to, define and react to monsters. Results of the study suggest that a sense of morality plays the largest role in how we are classifying modern-day monsters, as does the portrayal of gender stereotypes and expectations, and the views of scientists and doctors. It also documents a cultural shift towards being more afraid of our fellow human beings than of supernatural things we can’t explain.

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