English | Projects In Reading and Writing: Frankenstein's Fantasy
W170 | 6958 | Whittaker


6958    MWF    9:05a-9:55a    BH 148    Jenna Whittaker

TOPIC: Frankenstein's Fantasy: Creating Life in the 19th & 20th

From the classical myth of Pygmalion's living statue to
Frankenstein's famous creature to the exceptionally life-like modern
day androids in Japan and South Korea, the desire to replicate human
life has captivated the imagination of poets, novelists, machinists,
and scientists for centuries. These creations tell the story of a
fantasy that at once suggests the boundless potential of human
creativity and warns of the darker, even fatal potential of such
power. What makes this fantasy of animation, of replicating human
life, so enduring? What is it about the prospect of recreating
ourselves that fascinates us and frightens us? We will begin in the
world of the 19th century, with its dazzling array of mechanical
automatons that sought to replicate single or multiple functions of
the human body. We'll then consider one of the most famous tales of
this life-giving fnatasy: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, along with
some of the adaptations it inspired. Finally, we will conclude our
investigation by considering recent depictions of androids in film
and popular culture. this course asks students to think about how
the "bodies" of these creations become cultural sites of wonder and
horror, curiosity and repulsion, beauty and repugnance, love and
violence. How do these creations speak to and about the cultures
that created them? What story do they have to tell us about
ourselves - our desires and our fears, our power and our frailty,
and ultimately our humanity?

Students will work with a wide array of media in this course:
periodical articles, literary texts, film, and more. In the process,
they will practice critical reading and analytical writing skills
relevant to many disciplines. This course fulfills the English
Composition requirement. As such, formal writing for this course
will push students to construct, develop, and refine their own
analytical arguments, as they learn to place their analysis within a
broader cultural and critical framework.