Boreal Monsters: A Gothic Bestiary of the Arctic and the Far North

Welcome to the LNUC Concurrences Seminar Series in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies!

Monica Germanà is Reader in Gothic and Contemporary Studies at the University of Westminster. Her research concentrates on Gothic and popular culture, with a specific emphasis on Scottish Gothic and gender. Her publications include Bond Girls: Body, Fashion, Gender (Bloomsbury, 2019), Scottish Women’s Gothic and Fantastic Writing (EUP, 2010), Ali Smith: New Critical Perspectives (Bloomsbury, 2013) co-edited with Emily Horton, and Scottish Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion (EUP, 2017), co-edited with Carol Davison. She was awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship from the University of Aberdeen in 2019 to explore the Special Collections of the Sir Duncan Rice Library. She is currently collaborating with Scottish and Icelandic academics and practitioners on a collaborative research project under the title of The North and the Scottish Imagination: Arctic Pasts and Futures. Her own research in the field concentrates on Scottish/Arctic cultural links with particular reference to the ‘otherwordly’, Gothic and fantastic themes recurrent in the representation of Scotland and the North in travel diaries, fictional accounts, oral superstitions and maps.

Boreal Monsters: A Gothic Bestiary of the Arctic and the Far North

This research talk traces a journey to the Arctic and the far north to explore the monsters that this exceptional environment has spawned through early modern maps, folklore, myth, travel and literary writing. Throughout a complex and diverse cultural history, boreal monsters speak to the paradoxical extremes of an environment which has always been the source of cultural anxieties, challenged scientific knowledge, and generated political tensions. As such creatures manifestly challenge conventional views of the Arctic and the Far North as barren, empty and ‘dead’, they also point to the fraught political tensions that continue to affect the region. While historical sources point to the colonial ‘monstering’ of native people, as the analysis moves from the past to the present, it highlights the tension between the perpetuation of colonial bias and indigenous ‘resistance’ to (neo)colonial pressures. Questions of indigenous agency become entangled, especially in those textual and visual narratives focussing on the present and near future, with joint questions of cultural and environmental sustainability. If water has been constructed as a bestiary of sea monsters, then the return of old viruses due to global warming points to the melting permafrost as a gothic archive of old/new ‘monsters’ ready to come back from the past. Rather than being ‘dead’, the Arctic, then, is best understood as the environmental ‘undead’.

The seminar will be held in English. 

Please send an email to if you want to participate via Zoom. 

Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies