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Week Eleven (Wed, 4/6): CLOSELY Reading Frankenstein

Esao Andrews, Young Mary Shelley

I. coursekeeping

cara, kelliott

by Friday @ midnight, post on-line your reactions to our discussion of Frankenstein (in response to the MIT postings, or if need be, not!)

for Monday, read
Prologue, Chapter 1 and Chapter 11 of Michael Chorost's World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of Humanity, Machines, and the Internet  (in the password-protected file). Thanks to MissArcher2, Chorost will be joining us on Skype; please come to class with three questions you'd like to ask, or comments you'd like to share with him. (You're also welcome to put them up on-line ahead of time, if you want him to have a preview....)

n.b. Hilary_B's dialogue between midwives and obstetricians garnered a comment re: her important discussion of options about giving birth

for Wednesday, watch Teknolust (placed on library reserve @ Canaday)

the week after is still up for grabs: do we want to watch Source Code, as suggested by rubikscube, or TRON Legacy, as since suggested by Apo, and seconded by Franklin 20, kgould and spreston?

how will you access this film??

II. on Monday we explored
what our other authors might say about Shelley's novel, and when class stopped I was not quite done w/ my review of possible "feminist science studies" critiques of Frankenstein. Picking up from there:

* Safie's letters could be read as the feminist core of book:
body discovers self as spirit, needing congenial social world
his fate hers: that of woman denied reason, cultivation of soul (200, 206)
regarded as, reduced to pure flesh
none can see their status as rational beings,
as spirits needing to be treated as such
those ltrs. DeLaceys' sacred text
(Felix happy, Agatha goodness, Safie wisdom)
complete correspondence:
(cf. other letters, listened to, not responded to)
evidence of TRUTH of tale
Safie's letters to lover who responds
answered letters, completed dialogue, circle @ center

* literary sources:
Paradise Lost

Prometheus (Ovid: created first mortals, out of earth and water)
Shelley's Prometheus Unbound: better known version, brings fire to humans
bound on mountain-top to have liver torn out by eagle, grow back each day
like Victor, wants to know too much
his sin, tragic flaw: usurping power of the creator/creative powers of women
(or simple failure to love?)
transgression of sexual, psychic, geographical boundaries
Faust/failed Bildungsroman
Rousseau's Emile

* genre conventions: gothic novel
other readings overflatten it/don't attend enough
to specific contextualization of period:
males not expected to be responsible for family emotional life, as today
domestic life celebrated later in 19th c.
interiority of family not recognized/represented yet as trope
was family (rather than school) seen as source of education?

* historical period: parliamentary bill passed 10 years after,
opening up educational opportunities for non-Anglicans
(at time of writing, Shelley's circle would not have been allowed..)

* Marxist readings: creature represents the working class
central story: radical empathy for the social outcast (Satan: jealous)
classic liberal text: empathy for the criminal
causes of crime: lack of sympathy 96, 140
context in suffering/cries for empathy 193, 208, 211
novel a cry to/for love 210

III. so: we've covered a lot of territory,
a range of possible readings:
a novel about (failed?) education?
feminist readings of the novel
--in narrative technique
multiple perspectives
showcases female spectatorship
--on grounds of content
*projection of Shelley's ambivalence about motherhood
*read Victor's Creature as woman: marginalized, outcast
*frustrated women's book about male immaturity,
masculine violence, scientific takeover of female nature
*critique of positive power of rationality

but also

Roughgarden re: the science of diversity
Barad re: entanglement, intra-action
Dull, West and Bañales re: cosmetic surgery
Parens and Hausman re: surgical alterations of self
Turkle re: performing self virtually
Rowe and Grobstein re: presenting information
Hayles re: role of digital processing in your reading
Leeson's Emmy (Ada's mom) re: creating your own creature
Haraway and Clark re: the cyborgian elements

LIZ: promised a scientist's reading of the book!

IV. Today's exercise was spurred by a post-class conversation with Franklin 20: we're going to take advantage of the fact that we each have the novel in hand to do some close reading. Select the one interpretation that we reviewed briefly on Monday/today that interests you the most, and take 5 minutes to find a short passage in the novel that "speaks to" that reading, a paragraph that supports, or challenges, or deepens, or questions the claim of this reading

Where to begin?

And where do we "end"??

Course Notes: cara, kelliott