Day Three – Prompt #3: An Idea for Visualizing Frankenstein

In terms of visualizing Frankenstein, I wanted to explore a personal question in the hopes of applying a purpose or idea. I’d like to know how many reprints or revisions were made over the years as well as their popularity (or how many novels were purchased in a year) in a simple line-graph and/or scatter. Furthermore, I’d be interested in seeing how many film adaptions of Frankenstein were made from the earliest example to the most recent (like Daniel Radcliffle’s Victor Frankenstein) as well as their popularity in correspondence; these graphs may be included in the first set or separately. The reason for this inquiry is because I wonder if there is a colliding trend where an original classic is modified to create a newer version for new generations and if so, do these modifications impact the story’s popularity? Will this trend continue onward for years to come or will it eventually decline at a certain point?

The reason why I ask this question and strive for an answer is that over the course of history, stories like Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf-Man, and others have endured throughout time as the most popular figures of horror. Despite any revisions, the generations are still exposed to these classics and carry onward as aspiring legends. I believe it’d be interesting to see any correlation between the rise of Frankenstein novels made in each year with the rise and/or fall of readers if any. As Moretti explains in Graphs Maps Trees, “the causal mechanism must thus be external to the genres, and common to all: like a sudden, total change of their ecosystem. Which is to say: a change of their audience. Books survive if they are read and disappear if they aren’t: and when an entire generic system vanishes at once, the likeliest explanation is that its readers vanished at once” (Moretti, 20). Based from Moretti’s explanation, it is a matter of generations that creates the certain style and mental state that is conformed by “the trigger action of the social and cultural process…” (Moretti, 21).

I’d like to use the line-graph featured in Figure 8 as the template(s) of my proposed visualization of the text as exemplified below here (Moretti, 15-16). In this case, the Y axis (horizontal) would be the number of purchases/readers with the X axis being the time-frame in decades, each point of the line (or dot) representing a different novel/film.

The advantages of using this model can be the simplistic direction that the data can followed by these guidelines that I’ve set as well as the purpose of the research. It is also an advantage to use this model because having more than one ‘line’ overlapping another would indicate the trend that I envision will occur more clearly. The disadvantages of using this model that I foresee, however, are that having more than one graph colliding with each would cause confusion. Another obstacle would be how difficult it would be to interpret the data and results of the graph. (501)

4 thoughts on “Day Three – Prompt #3: An Idea for Visualizing Frankenstein

  1. I really like the ideas you pose at the very beginning, especially in regards to reprints and revisions/adaptations. If only there was a movie version of Ngram, maybe adaptable from IMDB! Your comment on the correlation between novels and readership made me want to add a third element: the role of the film industry. When a movie comes out, often times people are interested in reading the original book to see if the stories match up. Perhaps the same could be said of Frankenstein and the modifications done over time (although I will admit I don’t always like newer versions of old movies).

    1. Nhu, I completely agree with your suggestion to see how the film industry plays a role and how it correlates between novels and readership. Of course not all films are long enough to play out the entire plot in close detail, however, in these graphs, we can list the main and important key scenes that should be in the film, then compare the movie adaptions and study which follows the text best, and which did not list all or as much of the key scenes and moments. We can also later interpret this graph and see how maybe because of certain scenes not being in the film, did it change how the film was understood by the audience? Did it change the storyline or the conclusion? In what way? How did it make the audience of the film feel after watching it? Did they different or similar to the readers of the text? The point I am making is if the Audience and the readers still view Frankenstein in a similar manner because of how it was presented to them through film.

  2. This would make for an interesting project, and it definitely made me rethink the project that I had proposed. My original thought had been that an increase in the production/sales of Frankenstein could signify that some thematic aspect of the novel was culturally relevant at a given point in time. Not once did it dawn on me that Hollywood has produced numerous adaptations of Frankenstein, and each successful film might simply spark renewed interest or curiosity in the novel. It seems like a more obvious, common sense way to interpret that type of visualization!

  3. Vincent, before I forget: you may want to check out some of these data sources. Some of them might prove useful for a project like this. These are free, I believe, and therefore the data is potentially incomplete and variable; paid services do exist, as well, though again there is the question of completeness and reliability.

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