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University Relations

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Oct. 29, 2008
Contact: Kristi Henderson, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, (785) 864-3663.

KU creature feature explores monsters through interactive activities

LAWRENCE — Would a monster, by any other name, sound as scary? University of Kansas monster experts Bill Tsutsui, professor of history, and Randi Hacker of the Center for East Asian Studies will help answer that question through an interactive experience called “What Makes a Monster? From Godzilla to Spore” as part of the CLAS ACTS series presented by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

This fun-filled presentation begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9, at Spooner Hall, across the street from the Natural History Museum. Parents are encouraged to bring their children to learn what makes a creature monstrous through activities such as making monster hands or feet, being in a growling contest, going on a scavenger hunt and having a picture taken with Baby Jay. Also, Tsutsui and Hacker will show clips of monsters in film and explain why we are drawn to beasts that scare us. The event is free and open to the public. For tickets, contact or visit the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.

Tsutsui has researched monsters since about 2004, when he wrote the book “Godzilla on My Mind” and when a 50th anniversary celebration of Godzilla was held in Lawrence.

“Like lots of people, my life has been full of monsters since I was a kid, watching old Godzilla movies on TV, reading about Grendel in school, believing that some kind of creature lurked in every dark space and under every bridge,” Tsutsui said. “I have been surprised in my research to find how universal monsters are: all cultures, in all times and places, have created legends of terrifying and awe-inspiring beasts and creatures.”

Tsutsui and Hacker’s presentation will also explain why monsters still exist in our minds, even when sciences assures us that they don’t exist in reality.

“My talk will focus on the features that characterize monsters, from medieval dragons to Bigfoot to Cookie Monster, and discuss why all humans want and need monstrous imagery,” Tsutsui said.

This is the third of eight CLAS ACTS presentations, which are sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and co-hosted by the Commons. The series’ first two presentations each drew large crowds. KU’s only astronaut professor, Steve Hawley, fascinated a crowd of 150 with his insider perspective on the Hubble Space Telescope and campaign rhetoric expert Robert Rowland dissected the messages and effectiveness of the Obama and McCain campaigns’ ads and slogans for a captivated crowd of 90.

The remaining presentations touch on a wide range of subjects, reflecting the diversity of programs and faculty within the College. The goal of the series is to share this diverse wealth of knowledge with the community in a manner that educates, entertains and engages the audience. For more information, go to


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