Final Project Proposal

For my final project, I have chosen to revise our Project 3 Final drafts.

Literature today is shifting to a whole new world of technology. Literature pieces are being found in the electronic form more abundantly than ever before. This shift to electronic literature has a negative impact on the ways of the reader. Conventional literature has the ability to immerse readers, and convey the emotions and beliefs of the author. I have decided to choose Nicholas Carr as a writing mentor of mine. His works in revision have centralized on the idea of expansion. Using Carr’s revision techniques I believe that I can further expand on a few key elements for my argument. This expansion will strengthen my argument and allow readers to connect to my argument. One key element that I could strengthen, is using specific examples for Luminous Airplane. In revising my Project 3, I have hopes that readers will take the message from my writing. I want readers to understand that conventional literature is in fact important.

To help accomplish this, I will be expanding on my argument even more, to provide specific evidence to allow the reader to understand the argument present. I will also be expanding on the counterargument, adding an element of another comparison between paper and electronic literature.

Using Carr to guide me through my final revision project will allow me to better myself as a writer. He uses a lot of evidence in his writing, which is strong for his argument AND counterargument. Carr believe revision is a chance to expand. Applying my writing mentor’s mindset, the question to be answered is: Where can I expand on this?

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An Electronic Age

Everyday our world takes more and more transitions to an electronic driven lifestyle. When I first came to college I was introduced to the app Venmo. Venmo is the idea of electronic money transactions to each other. For example, if I were to split a pizza with my friend, one person would buy the pizza and the other person would “Venmo” the other. The idea of venmo is pretty much another bank account. A person can get away with not bringing their wallet anywhere and “Venmoing” people for things. Our lifestyles have become more and more reliant on electronics as we grow older. The idea of pocket change has been replaced by debit cards and even now books are transitioning to electronic articles. The use of books as a primary source is slowly being forgotten.

Browsing the Electronic Literature Collection was a disappointing experience for me. I briefly skimmed a few of the different games and readings, but spent most of my time on the “Chemical Landscapes of informal writing.” This was truly an unconventional writing. The writing had a title page, and when the reader clicks on the title page, it transitions to a paragraph. Where the reader clicked on the title page depended on which paragraph came up. The reading however, was a jumble of words that would fade before you could read the entire paragraph. It took a few rounds for me to truly read one whole paragraph. I would not consider this a form of literature in any sense but one. Birkets defines literature as something immersive. The “Chemical Landscapes of informal writing” immersed me because I was genuinely curious what the rest of the paragraph had to say.

Birkets would agree with me that this is not literature. Literature for Birkets is textbooks, novels, poetry, and other WRITTEN forms of literature. He wrote, “the difference between words on a page and words on a screen is the difference between product and process.” Reading this excerpt took me back to the readings of “The Medium is the Massage.” The medium is not more important because the medium is making readers lazy. On the Macintosh computer, someone can use the find tool to find keywords, so a reader can find exactly what they want to find in a matter of seconds without reading the entire passage. I agree with Birkets in saying that conventional literature immerses the reader into the writing.

Technology can be a useful tool but should not be abused. Our world is becoming more reliant on these forms of technology which makes it nearly impossible to ignore electronic literature. Electronic literature appeals to different people, but not to me.  There is something about sitting on your porch and reading a good novel that appeals to me.

Classic Literature

According to the dictionary, literature is defined as written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit. In line with this definition, Luminous Airplanes would be considered a piece of literature. This new age literature is interesting to me, because it reminds me of my younger days. My junior year of highschool, I was introduced by a friend to the game “Grand Theft Auto.” The game is considered to be violent is frowned upon by many, however in some sense there are similarities between the video game and the online literature piece. In the game, one can follow the story campaign and live the life of the main character, “Trevor,” or they can do anything they would like in the game. One can do absolutely anything they please in the game. In this online book, one can read the book, or they can access the map, and read from anywhere they please.

After reading a few pages from the beginning, I decided to access the map. From the map I then press the help button where I was presented with an interesting text. The text read: “My god, you think you need help? You’re not the one sitting in his room in New Haven, Connecticut, right now, wondering what the hell happened to your life.” The text further went in a somewhat biographical sense expanding on the authors life and then closing with, “and you think you’re the one who needs help! My god.” This was interesting to me because it was a much more relaxed sense of text contrary to the other texts we were asked to read. It was even more interesting because I stumbled upon it by myself, and not just reading straight through. Most people most likely do not even click on the help section of the map. Luminous Airplanes is much different than say Frankenstein because Frankenstein is a piece of literature where Mary Shelley wants readers to get a message from reading her novel. The story has a plot with a beginning and an end. With this online text, I felt as if it didn’t have the same elements that Frankenstein had because the story was chosen by the reader. The reader got the message that he WANTED to receive from the text. It is unlike normal text, and I feel as if the author Carr would not approve of this form of literature because in the end the reader is somewhat of an author.

Birket’s in his argument puts forth an interesting idea that reading a text should take you places. That when you read a book you are not sitting there reading but you are actually immersed into the book along with the characters. Upon reading Luminous Airplanes, I did not feel this. I did not feel as if I was immersed into the text, because I was choosing what was going on, and there was not actually a moment that took me by surprise. By definition, people could say that this is a form of literature, but from an author’s point of view, and a readers standpoint, this is not “classic literature.”

 

 

What is the medium?

In today’s society, we are run by social media and alternate news sources. The presidential campaign was a turning point in my personal views of social media. Our current President of the United States, Donald Trump, constantly brings up the idea of “fake news.” Although I do not fully agree with his statement that the news is never right, I will agree that social media allows for different facts and statements to be skewed in a way that leaves viewers with an altered mindset. During the election, I decided to delete my twitter account because I could not stand to read different people’s strong opinions on the presidential candidates.

Marshall McLuhan, author of Medium is the Massage, understood the media before his time. In his novel, he argues that technology is changing society and the way people think and behave. He is not necessarily talking down on the advancements in technology, because the medium is the message. To McLuhan, it is not essentially the message that is put forth, it is the way that it is brought to us. He introduced the idea of the emergence of a “global village” and the unification of people through these technologies. During his time, there was no Twitter, Facebook, or instantaneous ways of finding news. McLuhan’s ideas, although presented before our time, are completely relevant. The way that information is brought to us, the medium, is more important than the message itself. McLuhan writes, “Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication” (McLuhan, 10). He further argues that, “All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered” (19). This is interesting because we do not understand how engulfed our lives are, in technologies. We use technology for everything. He believes that these technological progressions are inevitable, but not necessarily bad. These technologies unite humanity into one big global village. Me deleting my twitter account during the election was stupid according to McLuhan. For it is not what I was reading, but the fact that I could read what my second cousin who lives in Krakow, Poland was writing, instantaneously.

This idea is different from Birkets who believes that these progressions in technologies are diminishing our language and the idea of literacy. McLuhan uses the word “outdated” when referencing older news sources which would frustrate Birkets. The Medium is the Message tells the story of our technological advancements uniting humanity into one big global village, while the writer of the novel didn’t even know the power of social networking in place today.

 

Source:

McLuhan, M. (1967). The Medium is the Massage. Corle Madera, CA: Ginko Press Inc. .

A shift in monstrocity

Abstract: The use of intertextual elements in the Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein complicates the characters of Victor and the creation allowing for sympathy of the creation. The references to Paradise Lost and Mary Shelley’s version of Genesis put forth her view of a cruel dark world shifting the monster from Victor’s creation to society in our world.

 

  • What is working? I believe I have a strong counterargument that helps further and support my argument.
  • One thing I believe I could have done better is used more in text evidence and developed a deeper reading, however I feel as if my argument was not affected by the minimal use of textual evidence.

 

The Humanization of a Monster

The English idiom “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is very applicable to the world around us. Many people today hide their vast amazing knowledge behind a wall that someone passing by would never suspect. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor’s creation is judged by his cover and for that reason is an alleged monster. The intertextual evidence used by Mary Shelley in the writing of her “horror classic” complicates and destabilizes the mainstream idea of the creation being a monster. Her comparisons to the characters in Paradise Lost and her rewriting of the Genesis story allow for readers to humanize the creation understand the author’s view of a cruel dark world that shifts the monstrosity from the creation to the society around us.

The monster is humanized in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley through the use of intertextuality. Throughout the novel, there are many signs of intertextuality. Mary Shelley references the literary works of Paradise Lost and the Genesis story in the bible. These were seen as the monster began to educate himself and explore literature. Through this self-exploration of literature, the story of Frankenstein is further complicated by the intertextuality used by Mary Shelley.

The monster starts to read books he found in a satchel, and began to find similarities between himself and fictional characters. One of the books that he began to read was Paradise Lost by John Milton. Unaware the story was fictional, the monster read the story as factual history. Further reading the story, he sympathized with the character of Satan. The reading of Milton’s Paradise Lost allowed for Victor’s creature to realize that he was a monster. He found similarities between himself and Satan, and began to sympathize with Satan. The sympathy shown by the monster for Satan, humanizes him which furthermore complicates the simple storyline of Frankenstein.

Victor Frankenstein is also seen in the novel to have startling similarities to the characters in Milton’s writing. Victor Frankenstein begins the novel as an innocent happy character. He begins a quest for knowledge and complicated sciences that allow for him to play creator. This “forbidden” knowledge causes him to “fall from grace.” He creates something that he sees as evil and satanic and refuses to claim it. This shows similarities to God in the Paradise Lost story. Victor compassioned with his Satan when he was speaking but could not overcome the monster’s looks. “His words had a strange effect on me. I compassioned him, and sometimes felt a wish to console him; but then I looked upon him, when I saw the filthy mass that moved and talked, my heart sickened, and my feelings were altered to those of horror and hatred. I tried to stifle these sensations; I thought, that I could not sympathize with him, I had no right to withhold from him the small portion of happiness which was yet in my power to bestow” (Shelley 158). Mary Shelley in this excerpt uses the book of Genesis to additionally complicate the story. Victor is the creator with the power to give the monster (Adam) a loving partner (Eve). Victor’s original thought of creating a partner was innocent, just how God never thought that Adam and Eve would sin and betray him by eating the forbidden fruit. The intertextuality of Milton’s story and the book of Genesis complicates the characters of Frankenstein through hidden comparisons and references.

The intertextuality of Paradise Lost in Shelley’s Frankenstein destabilizes the main storyline of the novel. The main storyline of the novel that common Hollywood producers take from the original novel, is that Victor’s monster is a ruthless killer. The comparison of the monster to Satan and Victor to the creator, destabilizes the original storyline by humanizing the monster. This destabilization complicates the original understanding the reader of the book has by shifting the monstrosity from the creation, to the people of society. Mary Shelley’s reference to Paradise Lost changes the depiction of the “monster” to a “creation,” also allowing readers to see the world in Mary Shelley’s dark perspective. Through her writings in Frankenstein, she puts forth her view of a dark, mean world.

Mary Shelley uses the intertextuality of Paradise Lost to show readers that the world she sees is mean and dark. She rewrites the Genesis story to fit her perspective of the twisted world. Victor’s creation is constantly rejected by society and his creator because of the way he looks. Nobody in the novel sees through the appearance of the monster, and looks at the intellectual beauty of him. Victor can be referenced throughout the novel as the “creator,” just as God created Adam. However, in this world, unlike the biblical version, the monster gets no partner and is rejected by its creator. In Milton’s Genesis, Eve played a key role in humanity. According to him, Eve’s sin by taking the apple is what makes us human. After Victor refuses to make another creature, the creation becomes filled with rage that was not previously seen before. The creature was inherently good, but throughout the novel was shown nothing but evil from a “dark” world. Coincidently, all of the wrong doings of the monster, happen at night. The world that Mary Shelley creates in Frankenstein is a cruel and twisted representation of the Genesis story.

It is easy to overlook the intertextuality placed before the reader and say that I, as a writer, am looking too deeply into Frankenstein. People in our world are reluctant to look at monsters in film, as human or good. It is in human nature to use black and white words to describe the world around us. Words like: good, bad, evil, villain, and hero are commonly used in stories. If readers were to overlook Paradise Lost in the novel, then they would view the creature as “evil,” and believe that it deserved the treatment it received. Without the deeper reading of the novel, it is a classic horror script as seen in the Hollywood productions. Mary Shelley would be disappointed if she were to see the reproductions of her novel in film. The comparisons to Paradise Lost and her recreation of the Genesis story in her “horror classic” allow for readers to sympathize with the creation, destabilizing the thought that it is a monster.

When the word Frankenstein comes to mind, the Halloween green skinned, wide eyed, huge monster comes to most people’s mind. The deeper reading of Frankenstein allows for the finding of hidden messages in text. Intertextual elements are used by writers to complicate, compare, and destabilize the upfront plot of a story. Mary Shelley uses Paradise Lost and the Genesis story to humanize the creation allowing for readers to sympathize with him. The character comparison between stories allows for the complication of the plot destabilizing the Hollywood depiction of Victor’s creation and putting forth the author’s view of a dark and cruel world.  Based on my analyzation of Frankenstein, the genre of horror should be deeper understood for: who exactly is the “monster”?

 

Sources:

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus. Ed. Kathleen Dorothy Scherf and David Lorne Macdonald. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2012. Print.

 

Don’t judge a book by its cover

The story line of Victor and his monster progress further. Victor runs into his creation while hiking in the Alps, and his creation has a long story to tell. He tells him everything that happened after he was left. We learn that his creation is no monster at all. He educates himself through the books he finds and experiences the world first hand by himself. The “monster” killed William, but saved another little girls life and was shot for it. He tells him how he tried to build relationships but no one could get past the fact that he was an ugly “monster”. He asks victor to build him a mate that he promises he will take to South America. At first, Victor is reluctant, but eventually agrees. While working on his new “monster”, Victor begins to do a lot of thinking. He begins to realize his new creation will have the ability to think and act freely just as his first creation does. He begins to have second thoughts and destroys his work and his creation begins his vengeance by killing off Clerval while Victor gets framed. Victor vows to get revenge and begins hunting the monster, and that is where our story with Walton gets tied in. Eventually Victor dies on the boat, and Walton finds the creation crying over Victor’s body. The novel ends with a final monologue from the creation talking about his death.

“I shall die, and what I feel now will no longer be felt. Soon these burning miseries will be extinct. I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly, and exult in the agony of the torturing flames…My spirit will sleep in peace; or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus.” (Shelley 221). In this passage, Shelley is telling us that the creation was nothing but human. The monster could be no monster because Shelley humanized him. She furthers her argument earlier in the novel by having the “monster” say: “Shall each man, find a wife for his bosom, and each beast have his mate, and I be alone? I had feelings of affection, and they were requited by detestation and scorn.” (Shelley 176). Here she was saying how Victor’s creation just needed love and affection. He wanted a relationship just like any other man, but the world around him treated him liked dirt. He was molded by his environment. There is a constant nature vs. nurture theme seen in the story line. A child who is brought up in an abusive environment is going to act what he see. In a famous study conducted by Albert Bandura, he placed a small child in a room with an adult mistreating and beating a doll. It was found that the children, when left alone with the doll, would treat the doll exactly how the adults treated it. This study is applicable to Frankenstein because he knows no better than evil, hate, and violence.

The rising question from the final passage of this novel is what if Victor’s creation wasn’t mistreated? What if he was brought up in a loving environment and was exposed to good people and affection. After reading this novel the common phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover” comes to mind. The creation educated himself and proved that he was no monster, but an eloquent individual who had a thirst for knowledge and kindness.

 

Monster?

Victor Frankenstein may be labeled as a mad scientist or a freak show, but not everyone can exactly pin point why. He was raised in a normal family with siblings, friends, and a cousin wife. After his mother died, he set out to study at Ingelstadt where his thirst for knowledge came about. Victor began his studies of natural sciences, anatomy, and natural philosophy. He discovered the “enticements of science (Shelley 77).” He also became obsessed with the thought of life and the human frame, so much that he even began to construct his own personal human being. He became so obsessed with his work he forgot his family and everyone. Victor was playing god.  He creates a human he believes is so ugly, that he cannot bear to look at, and becomes very ill. The “monster” is left alone until Victor gets word that his little brother, William has been murdered, and the little girl from his mom’s funeral was falsely accused for it but Victor knew it was his creation’s doing.

Knowledge is power. Before Victor left for his studies, he was an innocent family man. After he left for his studies, he created a monster that killed his own brother. This all arose from curiosity of human anatomy and natural sciences. Victor had found himself through literature of sciences so much that it consumed him. At one point he wrote, “natural philosophy, and particularly chemistry, in the most comprehensive sense of the term, became nearly my sole occupation (77).” He kept gaining and gaining more knowledge, that he became capable of “bestowing animation upon lifeless matter.” This shows how much power he gained through his studies. Victor became a creator through just self-explored knowledge of the natural sciences and philosophies. He wanted to be “blessed as a creator and source.” A key term in this section of the novel is curiosity. Victor displays curiosity in the natural sciences and believes that will make him happy, but in the end curiosity killed the cat.

One question that arose from the readings of Frankenstein was how did Mary Shelley relate to Victor? When Mary Shelley wrote the original novel she was 19 years old. This is around the age Victor is in the novel. The creation of the monster is often compared to child birth, so possibly Mary Shelley wrote the novel comparing the monster to a child being born and neglected. What is the deeper meaning to Mary Shelley’s writing? Another question that I asked myself while reading was, why did Victor dedicate all this time and health for something he never wanted to see again?