In Frankenstein’s Wake

Mary Shelley, Morality and Science Fiction


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About the Book

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.

About the Author(s)

Alison Bedford is a sessional lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, Australia. She is also a secondary school English and history teacher. Her research interests and publications focus on Romantic and Victorian fiction and pedagogy for the teaching of history.

Donald E. Palumbo is a professor of English at East Carolina University. He lives in Greenville, North Carolina.

C.W. Sullivan III is Distinguished Professor of arts and sciences at East Carolina University and a full member of the Welsh Academy. He is the author of numerous books and the on-line journal Celtic Cultural Studies.

Bibliographic Details

Alison Bedford. Series Editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 205
Bibliographic Info: 6 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7780-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4153-9
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Preface 1
Introduction 5
One. Reading Shelley: A Review and a Response 11
Two. Shelley’s Context: Place, Time and Personality 36
Three. Authorship and the Founding of Discourse 71
Four. Mirror Fragments: A Close Reading of the 1818 Edition of Frankenstein 101
Five. Influence, Inspiration and Innovation 128
Six. In Shelley’s Wake: Measuring the Impact of Frankenstein 153
Conclusion: Afterlives 181
References 187
Index 195

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “A substantial, important, and innovative contribution to our appreciation of Frankenstein and its continuing influence of culture.”—Stephen Behrendt, George Holmes Distinguished Professor of English, University of Nebraska