What Was Man…? Reimagining Monstrosity from Humanism to Trashumanism

  • Fred Botting
Part of the Studies in Global Science Fiction book series (SGSF)


Frankenstein offered a divided imagining of modern humanity. As a distinctly modern myth concerned with science and nature, it raised questions of power, responsibility, and freedom, opening up issues of social, sexual, and technological production which, towards the end of the twentieth century, bifurcated towards identity politics or technological supersession. At the same time, the rise of technoscience and posthumanism indicated another direction for the novel, a move away from a dual humanity (that was noble and base, man and monster) and towards new articulations in which nature, patriarchy, body, and gender were subjected to global powers of information, media, and economy. Recent iterations of Shelley’s novel manifest themselves in shiny, superheroic digital forms or nostalgic mashes of popular monstrosity. They also—in Bernard Rose’s contemporary film adaptation of the monster’s narrative—signal a disarming and cruel global biopolitical logic furnished with the technological power to replicate and expend (‘garbage’ human) bodies at will.

Works Cited

  1. Agamben, Giorgio. 1995. Homo Sacer. Trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 1999. Remains of Auschwitz. Trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 2005. State of Exception. Trans. Kevin Attell. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Balibar, Étienne. 1998. Violence, Ideality, Cruelty. New Formations 35: 7–18.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 2001. Outlines of a Topography of Cruelty. Constellations 1: 15–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. ———. 2009. Violence and Cruelty. Trans. Stephanie Bundy. Differences 20 (2–3): 9–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barthes, Roland. 1977. From Work to Text, in Stephen Heath (trans. and ed.), Image Music Text, 155–164. London: Fontana.Google Scholar
  8. Baudrillard, Jean. 1994. The Illusion of the End. Trans. Chris Turner. London: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  9. Cavallaro, Dani. 2000. Cyberpunk and Cyberculture. London: Athlone Press.Google Scholar
  10. Chocano, Carina. 2011. How Tabloid Trainwrecks Are Reinventing Gothic Literature. New York Times, September 2. Accessed Sept 2013.
  11. Clarke, Arthur C. 1995. Dial “F” for Frankenstein. In The Frankenstein Omnibus, ed. Peter Haining, 681–688. London: Orion.Google Scholar
  12. Clarke, Julie. 2002. The Human/Not Human in the Work of Orlan and Stelarc. In The Cyborg Experiments, ed. Joanna Zylinska, 33–55. London/New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  13. Easlea, Brian. 1983. Fathering the Unthinkable. London: Polity.Google Scholar
  14. Fukuyama, Francis. 2002. Our Posthuman Future. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.Google Scholar
  15. Gusterson, Hugh. 1995. Short Circuit: Watching Television with a Nuclear-Weapons Scientist. In The Cyborg Handbook, ed. Chris Hables Gray, 107–118. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Halberstam, Judith. 1995. Skin Shows. Durham/London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Haraway, Donna J. 1990. A Manifesto for Cyborgs. In Feminism/Postmodernism, ed. Linda J. Nicholson, 190–233. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. ———. 1997. Modest Witness@Second_Millenium. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. 2000. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. ———. 2006. Multitude. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  21. Hayles, N. Katherine. 1999. How We Became Posthuman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. ———. 2000. Flickering Connectivities in Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl. Postmodern Culture 10 (2).Google Scholar
  23. Hoeveler, Diane Long. 2003. Frankenstein, Feminism and Literary Theory. In The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley, ed. Esther Schor, 45–62. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Johnson, Fred. 1996. Cyberpunks in the White House. In Fractal Dreams, ed. John Dovey, 78–108. London: Lawrence and Wishart.Google Scholar
  25. Kroker, Arthur. 2014. Exits to a Posthuman Future. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  26. Levy, Stephen. 1992. Artificial Life. London: Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar
  27. Mbembe, Achille. 2003. Necropolitics. Trans. Libby Meintjes. Public Culture 15 (1): 11–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Plant, Sadie. 1997. Zeroes and Ones. London: Fourth Estate.Google Scholar
  29. Poster, Mark. 2002. High-Tech Frankenstein, or Heidegger Meets Stelarc. In The Cyborg Experiments, ed. Joanna Zylinska, 15–32. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  30. Roof, Judith. 1996. Reproductions of Reproduction. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Rosenberg, Brian. 2013. The Frankenstein’s Monster of Social Media. The Huffington Post, March 29. Accessed Nov 2015.
  32. Shelley, Mary. 1969. Frankenstein, ed. M.K. Joseph. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Stryker, Susan. 1994. My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix. GLQ 1: 237–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Turney, Jon. 1998. Frankenstein’s Footsteps. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred Botting
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesKingston UniversityKingston upon ThamesUK

Personalised recommendations