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'Hydra's Tale' examines disgust in literature, art and history

Injuries, vomit, filth and nauseau focus of 'Hydra's Tale'

University of Alberta

Imagine a disgusting experience. Now think about your response. What was it about the moment that made you turn your head, that led your lip to curl and nose to wrinkle?

Disgust has many triggers, some obvious, others less so. What disgusts us is never irrevocably fixed and certain. It changes from culture to culture and even, at times, within a culture. This fluidity makes the term disgust at once deadly simple and extremely complex.

In The Hydra's Tale, University of Alberta Professor Emeritus Robert Rawdon Wilson treats the experience of disgust: not from the perspective of the disgusting object-in-the-world, but from its representation.

Disgust marks either a slip over the border of the socially sanctioned or a struggle to keep someone or something from crossing that border. Working through the spectrum of human response, culture, and art, Wilson teases out the assumptions that underpin the disgust response.

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