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Class Notes 4/6

kelliott's picture

GIST Notes

More feminist readings of Frankenstein
--suggest that you could look at Safie’s letter as core of book

--bodies that discover selves as spirits...his fate is her fate
--no one can see their status as that of rational beings; both spirits that need to be treated as such

--step off of Paradise Lost (a contemporary version)

--Mary Shelley’s husband wrote Prometheus Unbound
--transgression of sexual, psychic, geographic bounds
--belong in category of Romantic, subset=Gothic: some critics say these readings as Gothic flatten the novel..

Readings that attend to historical period
--Non-Anglicans not educated—who is allowed to be educated and what is education for?

Readings of novel as Marxist
--Reading creature as representation of working class
--Radical empathy for the social outcast

Some readings offered on Monday
--A novel of failed education..range of feminist readings…showcases female spectatorship…projecting Shelley’s ambivalence about motherhood…male immaturity…masculine take over of female nature…positive power of rationality..

Liz—scientific reading of the book
Select one interpretation & find a passage in the novel that speaks to that interpretation (supports…challenges…somehow complexifies or interrogates the interpretation)

p.36 “One of the phenomena…”

--Observation as a scientist—burden of responsibility of discovering new knowledge, but handle it in different ways
-like to think of morality and ethics as distinct from science

p.144 “ I sat one evening in my laboratory…”

--How should this responsibility be shared between creator and created?


p. 14 “you seek for knowledge and wisdom…”

“seek happiness and tranquility…”

Book a critique of scientific materialism/rationalism?

--Tension is still there—can we ever pursue knowledge for own sake without knowing that it cant be separated from its use?

--Might be a societal level tension, or also something that exists inside scientists that needs to be resolved


--look at it in terms of plastic surgery--when did plastic surgery start?

Is there a hubris there, too? That you can make the body better and that you can perfect

Beginning of Ch. 5 “How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe?”

--What makes the monster so hideous? If he selected the features as beautiful..

--The separateness of the features, each piece specifically is beautiful, when it’s all together it’s not anymore.

--In contrast to watery eyes, black lips—eyes to the soul, lips for communication

--The moment of life is a moment of catastrophe

--It was the beauty that mattered to him more than the creation

Question of aesthetics…

Did he think about what it’d look like?
p. 36 Ch. 3 or 4 “No one can conceive..”

--He will have created life from inanimated bodies.

When the creature is animated, what happens?

--Equates ugly features with ugly nature.

Psychology: The Halo effect: Beauty
--See something as beautiful and perceive as good, then does something bad, is even stronger

--Babies stare at people with more symmetrical faces for longer times

Source of our repulsion to the ugly?

--Symmetry and beauty earlier were associated with health…so no blatant defects in genes or character

--Ugly associated with disease or deficiency

Correlation between the creature and his moral character? Is he born evil?

--Not born evil, but because of societal expectations he ends up doing something that is expected..sealed his fate..

Monstrous nature is a result of his upbringing? Born with character?

--When he looks in the pond and sees his own reflection…pg. 94 Ch. 12 “I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers…”

--Saw what the cottagers looked like and was expecting to be like them…had instances before when he met humans who told him he was ugly but never saw this until now.

Hillary G
--Then displays it…That’s what’s expected of him..

Where are we told what they look like? Go back a chapter…

p. 90 “The old man had…”

Why would he call them beautiful and himself hideous? Where does that come from?

Maybe their behavior seems beautiful

Another creation…
--He doesn’t know what she will be like…He really doesn’t know what he will be creating.

--He fears her free will. She was going to become a thinking, reasoning animal.

--Become more human-like.

--If some of the parts are not human, does that make him less human?

He thinks he’s human.
p. 115 end of Ch. 15
--talking to old man “I have good dispositions…”

Recognized as human by old man and then accepts that…

“Let him live with me in the interchange of kindness…”

Human senses act as barrier

Another reading…Hayles etc
Ch. 10 p. 78
p. 44 Ch. 5 “I had worked for..”

What if he succeeded in creating a beautiful creature?

Being more moderate in your desires…too passionate?





Our own readings…


Cosmetic surgery

Society creating monster

Failed education: Ch. 2

Frustration of male immaturity



Contrast to Roughgarden’s diversity





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