Jeffery Jerome Cohen: Monster Theory Analysis

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 750 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Words: 750|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Thesis 1: The Monster's is a Cultural
  2. Thesis 2: The Monster Always Escapes
  3. Thesis 3: The Monster is the Harbinger of Category Crisis
  4. Thesis 4: The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference
  5. Thesis 5: The Monster Polices the Borders of the Possible
  6. Thesis 6: Fear of the Monster is Really a Kind of Desire
  7. Thesis 7: The Monster Stands at the Threshold of Becoming

Jeffery Jerome Cohen's "Monster Culture (Seven Theses)" is a renowned work in the field of monster theory. In this essay, Cohen explores the concept of the monster as a cultural and social phenomenon, challenging traditional perceptions and shedding light on the symbolic significance of monsters in various contexts. This analysis aims to delve into the key theses put forth by Cohen and examine their relevance in today's society.

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Thesis 1: The Monster's is a Cultural

Cohen argues that the monster serves as a manifestation of a culture's fears, anxieties, and desires. The physical attributes of the monster are often reflective of societal taboos and concerns. For instance, the monstrous figure of Frankenstein's creature embodies the fears surrounding scientific experimentation and the boundaries of human knowledge. In today's context, we can see the parallels in the portrayal of technology and artificial intelligence in popular culture as potential "monsters" that em the anxieties of our digital age.

Thesis 2: The Monster Always Escapes

According to Cohen, the monster is never completely vanquished; it always returns in one form or another. This thesis speaks to the enduring nature of the monstrous in cultural narratives. We witness this phenomenon in the recurring themes and motifs of monsters in literature, film, and folklore. The monster's ability to persist despite attempts to eradicate it speaks to the unresolved societal issues it represents. For example, the persistence of vampire narratives in popular culture reflects our ongoing fascination with themes of immortality and the fear of death.

Thesis 3: The Monster is the Harbinger of Category Crisis

Cohen contends that the monster disrupts and challenges established categories and boundaries. It exists in the liminal space between the known and the unknown, blurring the lines between human and non-human, good and evil, and normal and abnormal. This thesis prompts us to reevaluate our preconceived notions and question the rigidity of societal norms. The rise of LGBTQ+ representation in media and the subsequent conversations around gender identity and sexual orientation exemplify the category crisis that the monster embodies.

Thesis 4: The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference

By positioning the monster at the threshold of difference, Cohen emphasizes its role in delineating the boundaries of the "other." The monster often represents marginalized or ostracized groups in society and serves as a reflection of the fear and prejudice towards those who are perceived as different. This thesis compels us to confront our attitudes towards diversity and inclusion, prompting us to consider the implications of "othering" individuals or communities based on perceived differences.

Thesis 5: The Monster Polices the Borders of the Possible

Cohen suggests that the monster's existence challenges the constraints of what is deemed possible or acceptable within a given cultural framework. The monster's transgressive nature pushes the boundaries of societal norms, prompting us to reconsider our limitations and preconceptions. In contemporary society, the emergence of new social movements and advocacy for marginalized communities challenges the status quo, echoing the disruptive nature of the monster in policing the borders of the possible.

Thesis 6: Fear of the Monster is Really a Kind of Desire

This thesis delves into the complex relationship between fear and desire in our perceptions of the monstrous. Cohen posits that the fear of the monster often conceals an underlying fascination and allure. The allure of the monstrous lies in its ability to evoke strong emotions and provoke introspection. This idea is evident in the enduring popularity of horror and fantasy genres, where audiences actively seek out experiences that elicit fear and fascination in equal measure.

Thesis 7: The Monster Stands at the Threshold of Becoming

Cohen's final thesis addresses the transformative potential of the monster. By existing at the threshold of becoming, the monster embodies the potential for change and evolution. This concept challenges us to embrace the unknown and recognize the opportunities for growth and progress that arise from confronting the monstrous. In the realm of social and political discourse, the monster's role as a catalyst for change is evident in movements that seek to challenge systemic injustices and bring about societal transformation.

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Jeffery Jerome Cohen's "Monster Culture (Seven Theses)" provides a thought-provoking framework for understanding the cultural significance of monsters. By examining the monster as a multifaceted symbol that reflects societal fears, challenges norms, and embodies transformative potential, we gain a deeper insight into the complexities of human experience and the dynamics of cultural representation. Cohen's theses continue to resonate in contemporary society, inviting us to critically engage with the monsters that inhabit our collective imagination.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Jeffery Jerome Cohen: Monster Theory Analysis. (2024, March 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from
“Jeffery Jerome Cohen: Monster Theory Analysis.” GradesFixer, 15 Mar. 2024,
Jeffery Jerome Cohen: Monster Theory Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 Jul. 2024].
Jeffery Jerome Cohen: Monster Theory Analysis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 15 [cited 2024 Jul 18]. Available from:
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