Monsters in America

Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting, 2nd Ed.

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W. Scott Poole
  • Waco, TX: 
    Baylor University Press
    , July
     335 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Jana Riess forthcoming.


Monsters arrived in 2011—and now they are back. Not only do they continue to live in our midst, but, as historian Scott Poole shows, these monsters are an important part of our past—a hideous obsession America cannot seem to escape.
Poole’s central argument in Monsters in America is that monster tales intertwine with America’s troubled history of racism, politics, class struggle, and gender inequality. The second edition of Monsters leads readers deeper into America’s tangled past to show how monsters continue to haunt contemporary American ideology.

By adding new discussions of the American West, Poole focuses intently on the Native American experience. He reveals how monster stories went west to Sand Creek and Wounded Knee, bringing the preoccupation with monsters into the twentieth century through the American Indian Movement. In his new preface and expanded conclusion, Poole’s tale connects to the present—illustrating the relationship between current social movements and their historical antecedents. This proven textbook also studies the social location of contemporary horror films, exploring, for example, how Get Out emerged from the context of the Black Lives Matter movement. Finally, in the new section “American Carnage,” Poole challenges readers to assess what their own monster tales might be and how our sordid past horrors express themselves in our present cultural anxieties.

By the end of the book, Poole cautions that America’s monsters aren’t going away anytime soon. If specters of the past still haunt our present, they may yet invade our future. Monsters are here to stay.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

W. Scott Poole is Professor of History at the College of Charleston. There he teaches courses on monsters, pop culture, and American history. He is the author of several books, including a biography of H.P Lovecraft, which became a Bram Stoker award finalist, and Wasteland: The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror.


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