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HUM 309 Ancient and Medieval Monsters

This course examines the idea of the monster in art and literature as used by authorities in Western civilizations to instruct their societies in communal values, regulation of behaviors, and how to conceptualize enemies. The course focuses on depictions of monsters in Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and medieval Europe as symbols and as representations of outsiders (such as ¿barbarians,¿ Jews, Muslims, pagans, heretics, racial others), and as subordinates or inferiors who may threaten social order (the disabled, women, homosexuals, the poor).


Special information

Prerequisite: 30 credits of lower-division work and Writing 131 or the equivalent.
4 Undergraduate credits

Effective January 1, 2018 to present

Meets graduation requirements for

Learning outcomes


  • Identify monstrous figures in ancient and medieval art by their physical attributes and symbols, relating them to their cultural context.
  • Discern how monsters represent cultural prohibitions and enemy others in communities, through close analysis of their representations in decorative objects, literary texts, and public rituals.
  • Analyze ancient and medieval literature¿s monsters in terms of the cultural context and values relevant to its time of creation and use, and understand these works as expressions of individual and human values within a historical and social context.
  • Respond critically to ancient and medieval works of art and literature, comparing critically monsters which represent similar prohibitions or fears in diverse cultures and time periods for distinct applications.
  • Evaluate Dante¿s uses of fictional, religious, and local ¿monsters¿ to taxonomize evil in universal and parochial terms.
  • Analyze critical articles for points salient to an understanding of a course topic, and then select and apply those points to the student¿s own argument.
  • Formulate hypotheses on how monsters function in particular texts and artworks, and then prove the hypotheses with critical support and application of course concepts.
  • Collaborate and create with fellow students thorough, sophisticated analyses of specific monsters, applying points from course readings and developing further received information.

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Goal 6: The Humanities and Fine Arts

  • Demonstrate awareness of the scope and variety of works in the arts and humanities.
  • Understand those works as expressions of individual and human values within a historical and social context.
  • Respond critically to works in the arts and humanities.
  • Engage in the creative process or interpretive performance.
  • Articulate an informed personal reaction to works in the arts and humanities.