Tag Archives: Frankenstein

The Monstrosity of Reading in Context

When I first proposed my project, I thought that a classroom assignment would be more interesting seeing as I’ve never tried organizing one before (see previous post to understand why my project is changing in direction). The project that I previously proposed had no focus and introduced a variety of themes, one of which was the function of language in conversation. I have decided to stick with the 1818 edition, rather than compare the two texts as it would be too ambitious of a project in this given time frame.

When I first approached Frankenstein in the extra credit assignment, I started to see a trend in Safie, recognized as the Arabian, and her father, the Turk. One of the questions I hope to answer in my final paper is why Mary Shelley chose to interchangeably use different identifiers throughout the text. Why is Henry Clerval not referred to with an identifier?

Furthermore, with Frankenstein, one of the key aspects I noticed was the acquisition of language and the authority envisioned by the characters through their interaction(s) with one another. To approach this project, I am comparing the acquisition of language through the monster’s perspective versus how Victor Frankenstein treats language in interactions with others (e.g. Henry Clerval).  By narrowing it down to a category for comparison, I will be able to take a pedagogical approach on how the name functions, especially through postcolonial criticism. How are the characters exploited through their loss of a name? or through dominant languages? The digital tool I will be using is Keyword in Context and I will use it to assist my analysis rather than as the primary method of research.

When researching, I found a variety of sources referring to Frankenstein as a postcolonial text, I started to stumble on other questions. Why didn’t any characters leave Europe? Why does Safie adopt the cottagers language rather than teach them hers? I will evaluate the postcolonial frame that Shelley introduces even through Victor Frankenstein’s education (Ingolstadt, for one) in contrast to the monster who is educated through observation. What is being exploited and how is this put into context in how the story is set up?

Looking at words and the frequency of them in the characters’ interactions will allow me to create a foundation of evidence for how Victor and the creature treat others. There is a western approach in how they move towards this encapsulation of language. The subplots are the main focus of this research as they are key points where the two encounter sub-characters and attempt to establish power through language. How does this speak to the larger context of European conquest and exploration of other cultures (540)?

 

Some of the sources I am working on:

Christie, William. “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: A Critical and Cultural Heritage.” The Two Romanticisms and Other Essays: Mystery and Interpretation in Romantic Literature, Sydney University Press, AUSTRALIA, 2016, pp. 231–268. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1d10h2h.14.

DIX, HYWEL ROWLAND. “Postcolonial Britain.” After Raymond Williams: Cultural Materialism and the Break-Up of Britain, 2nd ed., University of Wales Press, 2013, pp. 111–142. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qhdnr.11.

Ransom, Amy J. “Mary Shelley’s ‘Hideous Progeny.’” Science Fiction Studies, vol. 37, no. 2, 2010, pp. 314–316. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25746415.

SUDAN, RAJANI. “Fair Exotics: Two Case Histories in Frankenstein and Villette.” Fair Exotics: Xenophobic Subjects in English Literature, 1720-1850, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002, pp. 117–147. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt3fj36r.7.