Bringing Frankenstein to Life in the Classroom

Digital pedagogy : the use of technology in constructing a learning environment online through various forms of interaction, but not limited through online, hybrid, or face-to-face interfaces.

As readers, digital pedagogy is instrumental in our comprehension of literary texts. We use it everyday without quite realizing how essential or engaging it is in our understanding of literature. For educators, it creates an open forum and platform where a wide range of information and classroom activities is easily accessed and shared. Furthermore, it encourages readers to collaborate in finding the best resources for students in the humanities.

With the structure of Frankenstein, I would incorporate visual storytelling as an activity; digital pedagogy in this sense would act as a medium for students to compose a variety of projects, such as a documentary, or a silent film, or even a series of photos. While it seems difficult at first, there is no expectation to be an expert per se in filming or audio production. In fact, it encourages students to utilize the devices within their reach, such as their smart phones, which today have the capability of taking high quality footage, if used correctly. Through this exercise, students will learn to manipulate perspective through the focal points of an image.

When I took the video production class at Marymount as an undergrad, I was encouraged to use my smart phone if I needed to practice the basics of photography, and did not have a camera on hand. One of the most essential lessons in photography is the rule of thirds:

In this image, the body of the bicyclist meets the rule of third in that he is lined up at the 1/3rd marker. This image is also open which allows the viewer to feel less constricted to the space while retaining the feeling of ongoing motion. Learning to frame a shot is essential because it acts as a foundation while helping draw attention to each and every part of an image.

A student studying Frankenstein may want to recreate this image in the scene where the men see the sled from the boat for the first time in Letter IV. Perhaps the viewer sees the men taking up 2/3rds  of the image and the sled and creature as taking up 1/3rd. This would give power and focus to the men, while giving sufficient attention to the creature in the scene.

With a recreation of key scenes through photographs, visualizing Frankenstein can materialize through different perspectives. While a timeline may appear efficient, it may not be as effective for those who learn through visuals. By putting images to key scenes, students will learn to be detail-oriented as well as approach textual analysis more critically.

Ending this post with a follow-up question: What other video projects can students develop beyond documentaries? I am quite fond of perhaps developing a podcast series from Robert Walton’s perspective (480).

4 thoughts on “Bringing Frankenstein to Life in the Classroom

  1. Nhu, I love these ideas! It would be interesting for students to compare the framing of the novel within the frame of the photography- do a project comparing what each character experiences within other frames. I also really like the podcast idea, anything that puts students in the mindset of the characters and explores the novel even more. Understanding characters is the easiest way of incorporating DH, but your photography idea or documentary could incorporate an understanding of the setting.

  2. Nhu, I completely agree with following the rules of the thirds in photography when assigning the students to create key images of important scenes from the text. This will not only help them understand the story better and create a timeline of it but through the rule of the thirds, how the images are displayed such as the characters or the general setting of the scene, this will keep them focused on what is most important in that scene. As a visual learner, I definitely promote this idea. I believe that the podcasts idea would be great for auditory learners since it will stir up a conversation or possibly a debate so the stronger the conversation is led, the better the outcome of the students learning will be.

  3. I believe this undergraduate experience from Marymount in video-production is being put to good use in this activity. Furthermore, I like the image-example as well as the demonstration and explanation to video-production (photography). For instance, the “rule of third” illustrates how Frankenstein can be properly used in context.
    My only question is whether or not podcasts is necessary and if so, what’s the different between a podcast and video/photo? As a individual not heavily invested in technology, I don’t have any experience in podcasts and their production. At the same time, if you had students that felt or thought the same way, it would benefit them in a digital humanities course.
    In any case, great work on your blog-post, I look forward to seeing you implement these activities in an actual classroom setting.

  4. One point, Nhu–“digital pedagogy” isn’t really something that we “use,” but rather a means by which material is taught or through which we as teachers engage a class. Pedagogy, meaning a teaching methodology/approach; digital, meaning a particular approach/set of tools and ideas. Interesting connections to the visual register!

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