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In Frankenstein's Wake: Mary Shelley, Morality and Science Fiction

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Just over 200 years ago on a stormy night, a young woman conceived of what would become one of the most iconic images of science gone wrong, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his Creature. For a long period, Mary Shelley languished in the shadow of her luminary husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, but was rescued from obscurity by the feminist scholars of the 1970s and 1980s. Just over 200 years ago on a stormy night, a young woman conceived of what would become one of the most iconic images of science gone wrong, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his Creature. For a long period, Mary Shelley languished in the shadow of her luminary husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, but was rescued from obscurity by the feminist scholars of the 1970s and 1980s. This book offers a new perspective on Shelley and on science fiction, arguing that she both established a new discursive space for moral thinking and laid the groundwork for the genre of science fiction. Adopting a contextual biographical approach and undertaking a close reading of the 1818 and 1831 editions of the text give readers insight into how this story synthesizes many of the concerns about new science prevalent in Shelley's time. Using Michel Foucault's concept of discourse, the present work argues that Shelley should be not only credited with the foundation of a genre but recognized as a figure who created a new cultural space for readers to explore their fears and negotiate the moral landscape of new science.


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Just over 200 years ago on a stormy night, a young woman conceived of what would become one of the most iconic images of science gone wrong, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his Creature. For a long period, Mary Shelley languished in the shadow of her luminary husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, but was rescued from obscurity by the feminist scholars of the 1970s and 1980s. Just over 200 years ago on a stormy night, a young woman conceived of what would become one of the most iconic images of science gone wrong, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his Creature. For a long period, Mary Shelley languished in the shadow of her luminary husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, but was rescued from obscurity by the feminist scholars of the 1970s and 1980s. This book offers a new perspective on Shelley and on science fiction, arguing that she both established a new discursive space for moral thinking and laid the groundwork for the genre of science fiction. Adopting a contextual biographical approach and undertaking a close reading of the 1818 and 1831 editions of the text give readers insight into how this story synthesizes many of the concerns about new science prevalent in Shelley's time. Using Michel Foucault's concept of discourse, the present work argues that Shelley should be not only credited with the foundation of a genre but recognized as a figure who created a new cultural space for readers to explore their fears and negotiate the moral landscape of new science.

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