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Frankenstein as a Modern Cyborg? Essays

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Frankenstein as a Modern Cyborg?

 
   The creature ("demon") created by Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus occupies a space that is neither quite masculine nor quite feminine, although he is clearly both created as a male and desires to be in the masculine role. Judith Halberstam describes this in-between-ness as being one of the primary characteristics of the Gothic monster--being in a space that's not easily classified or categorized, and therefore being rendered unintelligible and monstrous. Donna J. Haraway posits that the post-modern science fiction cyborg occupies a similar in-between space, or, perhaps, a non-space. Similarly, Cathy Griggs argues that the post-modern lesbian is linked to this notion of the cyborg. The lesbian is rendered monstrous in social discourse by her desire to ascend into the phallic privilege, connecting this in-between-ness as both a monstrous trait and a cybernetic one. Further, the transgender man (female-to-male) occupies a similar discursive space and provides us with a post-modern link to Frankenstein's creature, as both are surgically constructed men, a construction that, in the eyes of society, renders them monstrous (particularly for trans-men who can't pass). Frankenstein's creature embodies gender transgression on two levels, both of which are the fuel for Victor's horror: the first being the creature's status as being a surgically constructed male, the second being Victor's own gender transgression in co-opting the feminine trait of reproduction, transforming his laboratory into a virtual womb. Given the scientific origin of the creature, as well as both its and Victor's unstable gender, is it possible that the modern Gothic monster pre-fi...


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...th. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990.

Griggers, Cathy. "Lesbian Bodies in the Age of (Post)mechanical Reproduction." Fear of a Queer Planet. Ed. Michael Warner. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993. 178-192.

Halberstam, Judith. Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters. Second ed. Durham: Duke UP, 1995.

Haraway, Donna J. "The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others." Cultural Studies. Eds. Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson and Paula A. Treichler. New York: Routledge, 1992. 295-337.

Haraway, Donna J. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. 1983 ed. New York: The Penguin Group, 1963.

Zizek, Slavoj. The Sublime Object of Ideology. London: Verso, 1989.


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