Sunday, January 8, 2012

Prompts for 2nd Class

Option #1:  Frankenstein is, by the standards of its time, at least, very much a tale of horror.  But it is also a story deeply concerned with intellectual and theoretical matters.  It is concerned, at least in part, with theory, or with theories:  theories of gender, theories of politics, theories of human nature and history, to say nothing of theories of science or technology.

Focusing on one specific passage at least as a starting point, argue that Frankenstein (at least the part you've read so far) is presenting some kind of theory.  After presenting that theory, and showing why we should think it plays a role in the novel or at least in your chosen passage(s), evaluate it.  Should we read the novel differently?  Does it cause problems for us?  How might we respond to it in our own time?

Example:  you might claim, based on the material roughly on page 110 that Frankenstein presents a theory of childhood (including how senses and ideas work, or fail to work, in early childhood), and that the monster either demonstrates, or contradicts, or both, some part of that theory of childhood.  Or you might claim, based on the murder of Justine, that the novel presents a "liberal" theory of crime, one in which we can explain crime through the criminal's personal history, while also exposing the limits of that theory.

Option #2:  Bill Joy argues that certain technologies, or families of technologies, currently under vigorous development are likely to be the end of humanity, in one sense or another.  Using details both from Joy and Frankenstein, focusing, again, on one primary moment in Frankenstein, discuss whether Shelley seems a particular technology or technologies as offering a Joy-style threat to human existence, or whether her warnings about science and technology (the idea that the novel is a parable about the dangers of technoscience gone astray is the conventional reading of the novel) are concerned with something other than a particular technology or set of technologies threatening humanity in a particular way.

No comments: