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Cultural Criticism &

Frankenstein
Malia & Alexa & Nicole
Cultural Criticism
Main Focuses
Areas of Interest
Tenets of Belief
High vs. Low Culture
High Culture: formal
Low Culture: casual
Cultural critics do not view a difference
between high and low culture; all culture is
equally important
Universities teach high culture
Cultural critics oppose the
Departments vs. Interdisciplinary Studies
Universities individually departmentalize studies

Separation between arts and history

Cultural critics believe in interdisciplinary studies rather than individual


departments

All works of art and literature are equally important; an advertisement and
an opera have equal importance when it comes to discovering and
studying their underlying ideas

Historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and communication theorists can


work together to analyze and build a deeper understanding of media

An interdisciplinary approach to culture is required now that media is so


complex
How a Cultural Critic Thinks
High culture = low culture
Interdisciplinary studies
More descriptive rather than evaluative
More interested in relating medias and information
rather than rating and putting media and information
into a category
Culture is expressed through media
Look at common, everyday texts but use philosophical
Possible Interpretation
of Frankenstein
(In light of Cultural Criticism)
Culture of 1818 - Climate Discussion
Idea: texts are created in conversation with politics
and beliefs of the time period
Introduction
1818 - Discussion of the idea of global cooling
Erasmus Darwin: cooling of the globe
Should the arctic be explored? The moon?
connecting ideas of culture during the time the
book was written to the plot and writing of the
How often do we see climate
referenced in Frankenstein? In
what scenes?
What is happening in these
scenes?
Context
1816: The Year Without Summer

In April of 1815, a volcano erupted in Indonesia

Volcanic ash circulated

Blocked sunlight & lowered temperatures in parts of Europe &


North America >18

Crop failures & famine (especially detrimental in France,


Germany, Austria, and Switzerland)

This lead Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein


to travel to Geneva, Switzerland in April 1816 and
her time here inspired Frankenstein
What could this mean?
Siobhan Carroll, a cultural critic compares the climate and topic of
climate change relevant to the time Frankenstein was written to the
climate mentioned in the book

Victors demise, chasing after the monster is exaggerated by the


weather: cold, stormy, and dangerous

This is deeply contrasted by Victors description of the weather before


creating the monster as a most beautiful season; never did the
fields bestow a more plentiful harvest, or the vines yield a more
luxuriant vintage.

Cultural context: Shelley used what was going on around her to not
only inspire her story but also to add more depth and symbolism
Page 518
The kinship between these ambitious schemes is highlighted in Frankensteins polar frame,
when Victor, stepping in to support his Arctic dopplegangers quest, insists that human
beings can triumph over polar ice. Animated by the feverish fire that glimmers in his
eyes (182), Victor persuades the sailors that these vast mountains of ice are mole-hills,
which will vanish before the resolutions of man (181). Claiming that the crew once dreamed
of being the benefactors of [their] species, Victor mocks their desire to retreat back into
the ostensive domestic security of their warm firesides, declaring that to retreat from ice
would be to turn their backs on the foe. Ultimately, he insists that the human race can and
will overcome the empire of ice, declaring that [t]his ice is not made of such stuff as your
hearts might be it is mutable, it cannot withstand you, if you say that is shall not (183).
Victors language here is strongly reminiscent of crusades against frost, both in his
assurance that ice will vanish before the will of men-- an image that evokes melting rather
than bypassed icebergs-- and its anti-domestic exhortation that European men look beyond
their domestic duties to engage in a battle with ice that will benefit humanity.

Interpretation regarding Victors creation of the monster: Victors unethical desire to


create life because of his own scientific curiosity is avenged by nature itself as he
disturbed natures pattern of creating life