Visualizing knowledge in Frankenstein!

Visualizing knowledge in Frankenstein!

When I found out that we would study Frankenstein for this course, I thought that we should study new trending literary work that interests this generation in order to highlight the importance of digitalizing humanities. Thus, I thought that Frankenstein would be too dated for this generation of readers. Due to advancements in technology in which our ideas, our interests, and our language have changed accordingly, Frankenstein seems to lack modern words and themes, such as science and consciousness. Surprisingly, I have found reading Frankenstein pleasurable, as it implies interesting story themes that are still debated today; for example, battle between fate and science, and the words that is usable in our daily life like electricity. Frankenstein is a Romantic novel by all means. This was very obvious to me from the beginning. The novel has Romantic language, passive voice of women, and natural influences; however, it debates ideas and questions of our life. In the book Graphs Maps Trees, Moretti emphasizes the three stages that govern the period 1710 to the 1850 are featured in the “social role of the novel” (P.7). Between 1820-1900, reading topics and novels such as “nautical tales, sporting novels, school stories, mysteries” was viral (P.8). The fact that Frankenstein has almost included all these topics has arisen its popularity. More importantly, the similarity between Frankenstein’s topics and topics in novels published today are clearly the reason that makes Frankenstein a life time novel. However, what interests me the most is how Shelly developed themes like fate, conciseness, and science that are debatable to us. I was curious to envision what makes the eighteenth century novel Frankenstein sounds like novel of our time? I used Google Ngram to calculate the use of these term through the fluctuation of the time 1800-2000.
Google Ngram Viewer, new themes
As the graph shows the use of consciousness, fate, and science in books since 1800, I can see the correlation between these themes visually. Nevertheless, the way that these words ranged around 20%-70% in 1800 and all have increased 30%-90% evidences my claim. In the chart above, the increases of science and consciousness respectively shows the reflection of the science on the individuals and vice versa. On the contrary, fate decreases accordingly due to the growth of science and consciousness. Since the use of revolutionary tools people believe in their abilities that can come close to the Creator. By visualizing this graph, I think I can articulate my conclusion regarding these three themes. First, it has proven to me that in developing science in any society, individuals create internal consciousness that challenge their beliefs. Second, due to this conflict between internal beliefs and scientific facts, doubting fate is naturally predicted. I think it would be hard to structure these results; therefore, digitalizing and visualizing literary text is another way of studying humanity sciences. As Piazza said, “what follows is to lay these out as a contribution to an interdisciplinary discussion, in the conviction that literary writing can be construed as a system that is not bound by the particular instruments it has itself created, and is therefore capable of metabolizing metaphors and ambiguities belonging to several systems of knowledge. I will add that the system of scientific knowledge” (P.95).

2 thoughts on “Visualizing knowledge in Frankenstein!

  1. I really like your idea of graphing those terms that seem timeless to you. I think that is a really incredible way of connecting classic texts such as Frankenstein to the modern world and would be a great asset in class, especially in connecting to younger generations.

  2. I think it’s a great start, and the method of Ngram Viewer graphs would work well in a body of research and topic such as this. I also like how applicable this research could become in terms of modernization since Frankenstein is a old classic and I’d like to see the effect of generations it has. Visualization would be essential in bridging those time-frames that Frankenstein has managed to cross over.
    I wonder, however, if the search could be narrowed by having the Ngram Viewer focus within Frankenstein and not generally throughout the collection of other novels as seen in your example? If not, could the graph benefit three or more themes (or central words) that have a vital role in these books?

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