Eyeing the Abject: Real Science and Fictional Frankensteinian Bodies

Bedford, Alison ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6708-9896 (2019) Eyeing the Abject: Real Science and Fictional Frankensteinian Bodies. In: Romantic Studies Association of Australasia 2019 Conference: Embodying Romanticism, 21 Nov - 23 Nov 2019, Canberra, Australia.

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Abstract

Fiction, since Mary’s Shelley’s Frankenstein, has consistently addressed our fear of losing control of our corporeal self, which is ultimately the centre of our sense of identity. As Chris Shilling describes: 'as science facilitates greater degrees of intervention into the body, it destabilises our knowledge of what bodies are, and runs ahead of our ability to make moral judgements about how far science should be allowed to reconstruct the body' (4). This makes the body a key site of anxiety in fiction, particularly the horror and science fiction genres, which have their genesis in Shelley’s novel. Julia Kristeva’s concept of abjection gives us an explanation as to why we keep revisiting this anxiety. She asserts, 'the phobic has no other object than the abject…thus, fear having bracketed, discourse will seem tenable only if it ceaselessly confront that otherness, a burden both repellent and repelled, a deep well of memory that is unapproachable and intimate: the abject' (Kristeva 6). The phobic here is not an individual, but the modern world. Our way of ‘ceaselessly confronting that otherness’ is through popular fiction, where the abject is particularly addressed in horror and science fiction. This paper will discuss Shelley’s exploration of the possible regenerative powers of sciences like Galvanism as a means of addressing our fundamental concerns about our power over our own and others bodies. I argue once new ideas, new threats to the body have been explored, particularly that we have envisaged a worst case scenario, the threat to our bodies is reduced, the object of our imagination may no longer be so abject, as we have approached the boundary, peered over and seen less of a threat than what we imagined, or been offered a way to deal with it. As Barbara Creed states, horror provokes 'a confrontation with the abject…in order, finally, to eject the abject and re-draw the boundaries between human and non-human' (53) and so redefine how we perceive our embodied selves.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Speech)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Education (1 Jul 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Education (1 Jul 2019 -)
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2022 03:00
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2022 03:35
Uncontrolled Keywords: Frankenstein, abject, bodies, Kristeva, Mary Shelley
Fields of Research (2020): 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470504 British and Irish literature
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4702 Cultural studies > 470208 Culture, representation and identity
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1302 Communication > 130203 Literature
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280116 Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/50637

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