Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2020

Published In

Human Monsters: Representations Of The Limits Of Humanity In The Early Modern Period


What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be a monster? Under what conditions and at what point does one exceed or not meet the standards of humanity and become a monster? Focusing on the so-called ‘Age of Exploration,’ this course examines the ways in which authors, artists, politicians and philosophers imagined the limits between the human and the monstrous during the early modern period, identifying their sources and pursuing their lines of influence. Ranging from classical mythology and the medieval worldview to Renaissance drama and the chronicles of the discovery and conquest of the New World, we will consider the physical, psychological and cultural boundaries of the human and the monstrous, as well as explore the ways these identities shift across time and space and have a continuing impact on the way we think of otherness today.

Funding Agency

Swarthmore College Provost Office

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Professor Eli Cohen was awarded a Digital Humanities Curricular Grant from the Provost's Office for use in his spring 2020 course, Human Monsters: Representations of the Limits of Humanity in the Early Modern Period (SPAN/LITRS 058). The syllabus, assignment instructions, and resulting website are made freely available here courtesy of the author.