In a time of rising prejudice, discrimination and othering, monsters rise. Society uses tropes of monstrosity not only to excuse injustices but also to disguise hate speech and frame oppressive legislation. We see it when goblins embody the stereotype of Jewish moneylenders in Harry Potter, when vampires are coded as dangerous stand-ins for members of the LGTBQ+ community, and when racist hatred manifests in portrayals of werewolves and zombies. Monsterizing the Other is the first step towards legitimizing atrocity. At the same time, redirecting, reimagining, and commenting on monstrous tropes is one of the most effective ways to fight back.
The Center for Monster Studies at UCSC (monsterstudies.ucsc.edu) shows how monsters influence our social justice conversations for good or ill. Monster Studies brings together research in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and even the Sciences to bring to light monstrous tropes that permeate our society. Through the activity of the Center, students at UCSC come together with scholars, members of the public, and artists from around the world to share a passion for monsters and uncover all they represent.
UCSC Students are passionate about monsters. The 2022 Festival hosted more than 300 students and members of the public who rubbed elbows with some of the leading lights of Monster Studies from across the United States. The festival’s student horror writing contest attracted entrants from across all disciplines at UCSC. Grad and undergrad classes on monster studies at UC Santa Cruz, from Monsters in Drama to Frankenstein’s Bodies to Harry Potter, are deeply popular.
We need your support to keep our monstrous momentum going. The 2023 Festival of Monsters (Oct. 13-15) is poised to double our impact and exposure this year. Giving makes the following possible:
- public and academic conference panels
- staged readings
- Werewolf Hunters, Jungle Queens, and Space Commandos: The Lost Worlds of Women Comics Artists exhibit at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History
- invited guests ranging from novelists to scholars to monster makers.
Every donation helps the Center bring panelists, artists, and students to the Festival and keeps it low cost for the public and free to UCSC students. It helps us fund opportunities for students to learn more about the world by learning to embrace what we fear the most.