Graphing Frankenstein

Due to Mary Shelly’s novel, Frankenstein, being the most prominently taught piece of text in classrooms, wouldn’t it be nice to know what made it popular throughout the years, and made it stay as an important text to teach? Frankenstein is a text that is mostly taught to high schoolers and university students, both undergraduate and undergraduate students. Of course, those students that are younger, will not be taught about Frankenstein in the way that a graduate student would look at the text. Frankenstein is a text that holds many themes within it. A college student could study all focus on some of the themes present in the text, by looking closely at them, while a high school student can just learn the broad theme of the text.

By reading what Franco Moretti has to say about making Graphs to perform quantitive research about any text, a graph is meant to provide data, and how this data is interpreted will be different from whoever studies or examines this data (Moretti, 9). I would personally like to create a graph to compare how Frankenstein was taught in high schools and in universities, throughout the years of which it became an important text. In this graph, I will list out the years where the text became popular, see the percentage of the schools that are teaching that text during that year, then compare it with whether it was more popular in high school or university that year.

I would also make another graph to get data on why that text was taught, what was the most common theme educators were talking about. I would use this data to compare it with important events that had occurred during that year. It would just be really interesting to discover what made Frankenstein an important text to teach throughout the years because I am pretty sure that every year, educators were focusing on a different aspect of the text. For instance, if I were to teach this text this year, I would mostly focus on the theme of female inferiority and how it is present in this text. I would focus on this theme because of late last year, the MeToo and the TimesUp movement was established. These movements came to provide a voice for those women that had to keep quiet and sacrifice so much of themselves. This theme is very relatable in the book because this story is being told to Margaret, who is only a listener, and many other instances throughout the book where the women are either quiet or making sacrifices, which is why I would focus on teaching this theme and would tell my students to relate this to current events. (450)

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3 thoughts on “Graphing Frankenstein

  1. This is a really cool idea of comparing the teaching styles throughout the year and making correlations to modern/current events. However, this is where I think the issue of errors and false data come into play. It would be great to think that professors and students are reading the text and focusing on different themes according to the times, but I feel that would be our own projection onto data, aka I don’t think data could emulate these predictions. It would be really interesting, but I don’t think possible to prove.

  2. I also think this is a really interesting idea, Hussah–you might be able to do some data-driven analysis about its teaching nonetheless, though probably not as granular as “thematic approach.” However, there are many things one can learn if we ask the right questions and gather the right data! If you’re interested in possibly pursuing this, I may be able to help with how to gather data.

  3. The one hand it does seem that it’d be difficult to record theme analysis with the student and teacher body (with the “predictions” as Freeland explains), I think it’s quite possible to do a simple bar-graph examining how many high schools versus universities have read the text, Frankenstein. For example, you could have one bar expand/decrease in terms of how many high schools took the text in teaching while another bar rides alongside the first, displaying the number of universities have taken the text in comparison; each set of bars could be set between ten years or so such as 2000-2010 for example.
    Whether or not you take this in your consideration, and whether or not this suggestion would be beneficial towards your goals, I would be interested in seeing the results of whatever method you take.

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