Image: Pages from Slenderman: The Arrival

This issue of Semiotic Review explores the intersections of the monstrous/grotesque and the semiotic.

In a manner similar to the fetish, the monster, a figure of radical alterity or difference, can be viewed as a semiotic figure which collects and foregrounds a series of sign relations at the boundaries of semiosis.  The Latin etymology of the term which connects the term to indexicality (monstrare ‘to point’) already underlines the semioticity of the monster.  Monstrosity and the grotesque occupies an aporia in historical, cultural, and semiotic contexts, and the monster therefore serves as a figure of the variousness and heterogeneity of semiosis:  As a sign of portent or omen in the ancient world, as an impossible chimerical sign vehicle standing at the limits of licit representation, for the ineffability of God or the impossibility of the Idol, in the form of ‘monstrous races’, forming a set of inversions of the normal that define the exotic lands of the East as spaces of radical alterity, as a wondrous sign of the absolutely singular, novel or exotic exhibited in curiosities from far-flung voyages and on woodcut images on pages of early newspapers, as a sign of a playful animate Nature which creates preternatural exceptions to its own orderly categories in the Early Modern period, to the scientific and epistemic practices that sought to rationalize monstrosity in its myriad forms into clinical schema in the modern period, to the playful proliferation of monsters in contemporary media mixes.

Like all thematic issues, this issue remains open to new essays and interventions.

Published: 2013-11-28