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On the Edge of Chaos: Ordinary Monsters of America

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Monday, March 25, 2019
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Susan Lepselter

The term "monster" is an unstable and often contradictory category. What do people mean when they use the word in everyday life? This talk explores beings referred to, by themselves or others, as a "monster," in a range of contemporary American contexts from obese bodies on reality TV to occult reptilians in conspiracy theories. Taking off from classic anthropological theories of monsters as deconstructed and reassembled natural objects, I describe their affective and meaningful associations, and explore their ubiquity in seemingly disenchanted American worlds.

Her gorgeous critical/experimental ethnography, which won the 2017 Bateson prize: The Resonance of Unseen Things

She researches the poetics of popular media and everyday life in contemporary America, focusing particularly on captivity narratives, themes of gender and class, and discourses of memory and trauma in American social life. She's also worked on hoarding.