Monstrous Dissections and Surgery as Performance: Gender, Race and the Bride of Frankenstein

  • Marie Mulvey-Roberts
Part of the Studies in Global Science Fiction book series (SGSF)


For creating his creature out of dead bodies, Victor Frankenstein makes use of dissection, described by William Lawrence as a ‘dirty source of knowledge’. Victor’s historical antecedents will be related to Mary Shelley’s circle and look ahead to Gunther von Hagens, known as Dr Death and a modern-day Frankenstein. Female dissection, such as that of nineteenth-century prophetess Joanna Southcott and Sarah Baartman, ‘the Hottentot Venus’, was regarded as particularly distasteful and this is mirrored in Victor’s tearing apart of the female monster. This dismemberment and fragmentation is re-membered and reconstituted in the work of French performance artist, ORLAN, who identifies herself as the Bride of Frankenstein. She uses surgery as a means of challenging inequalities of gender and race in a celebration of racial and sexual hybridity.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie Mulvey-Roberts
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Arts and Cultural IndustriesUniversity of the West of EnglandBristolUK

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