The dissertation examines the monster as a cross-cultural conceptual image, with a particular focus on the dynamic character constellation between women and monsters in film. The monster is understood as a figure imagined and constructed by humans, with physiognomic and psychological non-human characteristics, excluded from the prevailing norms of interaction within a social structure within the diegesis, and referencing more than itself outside the diegesis (from the Latin mōnstrāre = to show).
The specific research interest of the dissertation is directed at the turning point between the representation of dominant patriarchal fantasies, in which women are conceived as passive objects of desire and monsters as antagonists to be conquered, and the moment of feminist conquest and appropriation of the motif. The breaking of taboos and the transgression of boundaries before and after this postulated turning point are strikingly different. Central to this are the question of the formal-aesthetic staging of this paradigm shift in film and the production processes behind it. It will also be discussed whether and to what extent existing narratives and stereotypes are deconstructed or merely reproduced.
To answer these questions, the character constellation of woman-monster is examined in terms of art, literature, and film history. Theoretical foundations for this can be found in feminist film theory and theories on the phenomenon of othering - such as critical race theory, cultural studies, and queer theory - as well as in narratological theories from myth and fairy tale research. This is followed by an examination of the turning point through the analysis of selected case studies.
The change of the narrative is understood as processual and dynamic. The methodological starting point for the analysis are two models of film and character analysis, the "KinematoGram" developed by Susanne Marschall and Jens Eder's "Clock of Characters". From these and other models, an independent approach will be developed in relation to the subject.
Using the monster film as an example, the dissertation will contribute to the feminist character discourse and the phenomenon of othering inscribed in it. In addition to addressing the research question, the aim is to create a methodological basis for future studies and to establish points of contact with related research topics, such as the cinematic representation of artificial intelligence (A.I.).
Alexa Vogel is currently working on her doctoral thesis "Monstrous Touches: On the Transformation of a Conceptual Image and a Dynamic Constellation of Characters" at the Institute for Media Studies with Prof. Dr. Susanne Marschall. She is also coordinator of the open access journal "Colour Turn" at the chair of Prof. Dr. Susanne Marschall. She has completed her M.A. in Media Studies at the University of Tübingen in 2018. She recieved her B.A. in Theatre, Film and Media Studies from the University of Vienna.
Vogel, Alexa / Mirsky, Ilja (2022): Medienproduktion der Zukunft: Handlungsempfehlungen für den Standort Region Stuttgart. Im Auftrag der Wirtschaftsförderung Region Stuttgart GmbH.