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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.
Summary
Other scholarship:
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" Routledge


Note 1.
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 ideas?

Links to these ideas would include:
Eco's (1993:1995) historical analysis of philosophical languages.
Alchemy as a subjugated knowledge, a la Foucault (1980).
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.


Note 2.
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.

Links
Mies & Shiva (1993), male, scientific domination of feminised nature.


Note 3.
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"
Note 4.
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.


Note 5.
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.


Note 6.
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 these burdens"
Note 7.
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?


Note 8.
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.
Note 9.
Links:


Created 26/1/99
Modified 6/2/99