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Turney, J. (1998) "Frankenstein's Footsteps",
Yale University Press, New Haven & London
Barnstaple Library - 576.5
Turney (1998) traces media representations of Frankenstein and genetics. He
does not explore much biological or cultural theory but he does provide an
historic framework to the ideas.
Bloom, H. (1987) "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: Modern Critical
Interpretations", Chelsea House, New York
Hunter, J.P. ed. (1996) "Frankenstein", Norton
Smith, J. ed. (1992) "Frankenstein: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism",
St. Martin's Press, New York
Biography of Mary Shelley:
Mellor, A. (1988) Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters"
p.20 "Symbolically, Frankenstein turns away from alchemy and the past
towards science and the future - and is rewarded with his horrible success"
Aldiss, B. (1975, p.27) "Frankenstein Unbound" Jonathan Cape
This portrays alchemy and science as mutually incompatable worldviews, a
view that is repeated later.
p.21 "Mary Shelley's creature belongs to a different age and a different set
of beliefs about the universe to the homoculus."
This interpretation would appear to echo Kuhn's ideas on scientific
paradigms (although I haven't yet read his book). However, it seems to me
that this is an over simplification. It might be that thermodynamics,
relativity and quantum mechanics are imcompatable worldviews. This does not
mean that physicists think that only one view is right, but that their
descriptions cover different local areas of reality.
Is the real reason for Frankenstein's success his synthesis of different
Links to these ideas would include:
Eco's (1993:1995) historical analysis of philosophical languages.
Alchemy as a subjugated knowledge, a la Foucault
Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
Re-reading of Victor Frankenstein's education.
Differences between the physics and chemistry of the elements. New
Scientist (21 Nov 1999)
A review of Axiomatic Set Theory in mathematics.
p.23 Main theme of Turney's analysis: "['Frankenstein'] as a response to the
powers of science".
p.24 "Mellor argues persuasively that the second principle novelty of the
story is Victor's personification of science as a male enterprise, bent on
dominating a feminised nature."
Both are echoes of the philosophical aspects of the work, rather than the
personal, autobiographical context of its creation.
Mies & Shiva (1993), male, scientific domination of feminised nature.
pp.26-28 Frankenstein as a myth. Touches on Levi-Strauss, but does not
mention Barthes "Mythologies". Barthes may
provide different tools to analyse "Frankenstein as a myth"
p.35 "It is frightening because it depicts a human enterprise which is out
of control, and which turns on its creator."
Links to views of authorship and authoritarianism, democracy, French
Revolution, the rearing of children, social reproduction.
Beck: reflexive modernity, social reproduction.
Dryzek: participative democracy.
p.36 "So I agree ... that the Frankenstein myth both expresses and
reinforces an undercurrent of feelings about science; that in George
Levine's phrase, it 'articulates a deeply felt cultural neurosis'.
Levine, G. & Knoepflmacher, U. (1982) "The endurance of 'Frankenstein':
Essays on Mary Shelley's Novel." University of California Press, Berkeley.
Mies & Shiva (1993): the undercurrent is a knowledge devalued as a
neurosis: a disease classified by the biology it is trying to criticise.
p.37 "We have always been prisoners of the body, victims of morbidity and
mortality, and we desire the power that biology might give us to relieve
pp.38-39 "There is a contradiction between our spontaneous, visceral
experience of the world, mediated through the senses, and our technological
capacity to order the world through analysis and measurement. Faced with
this contradiction, one possible response to the objectification of the
world by science and technology is a 'recoil to the body', a reaffirmation
of the intensity of bodily feeling and of the integrity of the person. Thus
the body, as an image of the natural world in microcosm, becomes a
metaphoric resource for those who criticise the scientific world-view."
Counterpose with reification or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness (Daly
& Cobb 1990, or Ho 1998). Experience and experimental evidence.
Integrity of the person? Interconnectedness of the person?
pp.37-42 Modernity in general.
Turney seems to portray modernity as objectification or scientific
rationality. This is distinct from Beck's reflexive modernity or Habermas'
communicative view of modernity. Habermas might see some aspects of biology
as systems invading or colonising a communicative lifeworld. A lifeworld of
knowledges rather than a dominant knowledge. He certainly criticises types
of rationality that could be associated with objectification.