Frankenstein: IntertextualityPosted: February 23, 2013
Intertextuality can be defined as the presence in a literary text (in our case, the novel Frankenstein) of elements from other texts. That presence can be a direct or indirect quotation, an allusion, an implication, an echo–in some way, a previous text or story is forwarded into the text you are reading. In contemporary music terms–intertextuality is sampling.
As I have mentioned in class, I invite and encourage you to browse through the projects from past classes. You can do so at this point as part of your composting, to get a feel for how some other writers have read Frankenstein from an intertextual perspective. Should you use anything specific from one of these essays–that is, specific language or an idea that is part of someone else’s reading, you will need to cite the source and credit the author. My suggestion would be to browse for some models and examples, not to use these as research (since this is not a research project) but for composting.
You might consider these examples:
Other possible places to go with the idea of intertextuality (that is, dealing with the amalgam-like quality of the novel, the recognition that there are multiple layers in the novel): Dante, the author’s introduction, Paradise Lost, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, medieval science. Lots of places.
In the second project, you are pursuing a close (slow) reading of key parts of the novel; but you will still be making an argument–there is a problem of some sort that you are exploring and (in your thesis) attempt to respond to and resolve. You can think of the problem/response in this way:
Many people tend to think of Frankenstein in simple terms, as a story about ______; however, there is a more complex story suggested by the intertext–a complexity that I read as important in the larger significance of Frankenstein as a novel about _______.
Some ‘machines’ you might find useful in your intertextual reading of Frankenstein:
Electronic Paradise Lost (Milton, 1667).
Electronic Bible (from UVA’s Electronic Text Center)