Alison Bedford, Donald E. Palumbo, C.W. Sullivan III, In Frankenstein’s Wake. Mary Shelley, Morality and Science Fiction, McFarland, 2021
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.
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.