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Profs and Pints DC presents: “Medieval Monsters,” with Lilla Kopár a professor of medieval literature and culture at Catholic University who teaches courses on medieval monster lore and Norse mythology.
[The Hill Center will be requiring proof of vaccination.]
Bar the door and clutch your sword. Profs and Pints DC is about to bring you a Halloween-season visit from the monsters that kept medieval people awake throughout long, dark nights.
Your guide in touring this menacing menagerie will be Dr. Lilla Kopár, an expert on early medieval England and Scandinavia who teaches Catholic University’s students about things that terrified in days of yore. Her illustrated talk will explore the origins of medieval monster lore in the classical, biblical, and Norse mythological traditions. It also will give us a much more nuanced understanding of monsters, explaining how we don’t just fear them, but love them and badly need them in our lives.
The talk marks the debut of Profs and Pints at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, a fascinating space on Capitol Hill just blocks from the Eastern Market metro stop. The fun will take place in the historic building’s second-floor Abraham Lincoln Hall, with a cash bar set up near the entry.
Among the questions Dr. Kopár will tackle: What, exactly, is a monster? Where do monsters come from? Why do all cultures need them?
She’ll discuss how monsters are highly functional constructs. They help us define who we are and who were aren’t, and to explain, structure, and control the world around us. They highlight differences and they mark cultural categories and boundaries—which they then trespass. We can project our fears onto them and then feel better when we confine and kill them. Without monsters there are no heroes.
We’ll encounter categorization-defying monsters that are a mixture of beasts or half beast and half human. We’ll spend time with famous literary monsters, including dragons, giants, and the monsters of Beowulf and the King Arthur legends. We’ll get to know monsters that found a place on old maps or the sides of cathedrals.
On the much darker side, we’ll learn how monstrosity was attributed to people who were somehow different—through disease, disability, or belief in another religion—often as a means of justifying their exclusion or persecution. Sometimes belief in monsters turned people into monsters themselves. (Advance tickets: $12. Door: $15, or $13 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in.)
Image: A gargoyle at England’s Magdalen College. (Photo by Chris Creagh / Wikimedia Commons.)