Voyant and Frankenstein

upI decided to use the 1818 version of Frankenstein in Voyant. For the three different tools I used Trends, Cirrus, and Bubblelines.

TRENDS:

By trends allowing us to see the relative frequencies in a line graph form I wanted to see the comparison of certain words in Shelley’s text. (Easily read tool).  Two of the most frequently used words are man and father, but I was curious to see if creator and father would show any “trend” instead. I thought they would start to blend together the further into the novel we got. Wrong. Father is used in an extremely high amount and spikes high towards the end. Creator doesn’t really have much of a change from start to finish.

CIRRUS:

Cirrus is a great visual tool to use. Being provided with a view of the most frequently used words may seem helpful to determine the genre of a novel, but it seems the only “horror” description was the word death. The words such a father, time, life, day, etc. could be considered an entirely different genre. I wanted to remove some of those words and see if cirrus could give me anymore indicators to Frankenstein being considered a horror novel.

BUBBLELINES:

I wanted to establish that Victor’s name is not really used throughout this novel. As the reader we only see the actual name “Victor” few times. Is this because we should refer to him as creator or even a monster himself? But oddly enough, Elizabeth’s name is used at quite a high frequency. The purple bubbles, representing Elizabeth are huge in comparison the green bubbles representing Victor. Our main character is barely referred to with his given name.

Shannen Coleman

 

Trees

“…branches of a morphological tree capture with such intuitive force. ‘A tree can be viewed as a simplified description of a matrix of distances’…And if language evolves by diverging why not literature too?” (Moretti 70). We can relate this to Moretti’s past chapters on Graphs and Maps and how genres have grown and changed throughout the years. I wouldn’t use the word matured, every generation has a preference, mainly because of the social happenings going on during that time period.

So what information can trees present to the reader? Genres within literature begin to divide even further from their original classification when using a tree diagram. Showing how different written texts can become separated and easily broken down for a clear view. When grouping together similarities are shown between genres that we wouldn’t normally assume belong together. Options have opened and our interpretations have the power to expand.

Shannen Coleman

Graphs

“Distant reading…where distance is however not an obstacle but a specific form of knowledge” (Moretti 1). I’ve never actually head anyone use distant reading in any english course I have taken. This one passage really caught my eye, and I assumed Moretti meant speed reading and looking at the text as a whole. Just to confirm my assumptions I looked up distant reading and realized my idea was incorrect. The New York Times actually published an article based on “What is Distant Reading?”. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/books/review/the-mechanic-muse-what-is-distant-reading.html

Is Moretti saying we need to stop reading books in order to learn more? That sounds a bit contradictory to what we have been taught in a classroom for the past two decades. Books may hold knowledge, but we need to expand our minds and push through our limitations. Using  graphs as a device can help us find the distinctions throughout genres and not trust only our knowledge of what the writing could be classified as. Just because I want to identity a novel as a gothic piece of literature, the graph could open the possibilities of many more genres I had not even thought of.

Moretti crosses the line in using scientific method in literary terms. “Here he abandons the quantitative method and turns to morphology, concluding that ‘the cycle is the hidden thread of literary history” (Moretti 26). I always viewed science and literature as two completely different entities. Here, Moretti is saying they are morphed into one another.

Shannen Coleman

New Isn’t Necessarily Better

When we hear the word “new” many of our minds unfortunately interpret that word as better. In 2016 “new” is considered an upgrade, a modernized and more updated version of the former. But with the idea of New Criticism, leaving the old ideas behind may not be for the best. As students aren’t we supposed to question either the understood OR misunderstood happenings in the world surrounding us? (Or in this case, the writings that we are read and taught in a classroom). Instead, New Criticism wants us to define the overall answer, the actual meaning of the work. But without our own interpretation ofisunderstood happenings in the world surrounding us? (Or in this case, the writings that we are read and taught in a classroom). Instead, New Criticism wants us to define the overall answer, the actual mean the words, we may not truly be digesting what the author intended to express anyway. To limit poetry (a text) to one finite answer should be considered a crime.

“Placing little emphasis on the author, the social context, or a text’s historical situation as a source for discovering a poem’s meaning, the New Critics assert that a reader’s emotional response to a text is neither important nor equivalent to its interpretation.” Even though a text such as poetry is meant to be read, the poem itself should be looked at as a whole. The reader’s interpretation truly means nothing. But by having our own ideas and opinions on the words, we actually learn more by expanding our learning. It seems the argument of either close reading or interpretation is in a never ending loop.

Shannen Coleman

Does the Reader Become the Author?

“We can say that today’s writing has freed itself from the theme of expression…Writing unfolds like a game that invariably goes beyond its own rules and transgresses its limits…rather a question of creating a space into which the writing subject constantly disappears” (Foucault 206). We can deduct that Foucault would agree with the unknown signified, the one constantly searching for a new meaning. But if the subject of the text continues to change doesn’t the originality become lost? The author,  who has made this writing for a purpose, is no longer the on in control. The reader has taken over. The subject can completely change into their want and the author is gone. Foucault mentions the word limits. Is he saying that writing has no limits? OR that the subject and meaning within the text has no limits?

“Our culture has metamorphosed this idea of narrative, or writing, as something designed to ward off death…The work, which once had the duty of providing immortality, now possesses the right to kill, to be its author’s murderer” (Foucault 206). I think Foucault is arguing that once the text is written, who it came from no longer matters. The text is the important and everlasting aspect, not the author. This seems a bit outlandish in my opinion, but it is true that words are meant to be read. As long as the text is read by the reader, why does it matter if the author’s view is behind the words? But does this just make the text lose any sense of origin?

The Truth of an Author

I never had many thoughts on the general definition of an author. Instead, I would think about the actual, specific writer and their written words. But in Donald E. Pease’s “Author”, he really expressed how in depth the details are to be considered a true author. “Is an individual self-determined or determined by material and historical circumstances?” I think Pease is questioning our originality, all of us and how true we stay to our identity. I can’t say we are all authors, but we all have our own ideas. However, jotting down our thoughts on paper does not make us authors. But who has the right to define what an author really is? With that contradictory statement, I want to say that defining an author seems like an example of an aporia.

“…Renaissance historians refer to as ‘new men,’ individuals within Renaissance culture who turned the ‘news’ sent home from freshly discovered lands into forms of cultural empowerment for unprecedented political actions and their personification by new agents with the culture. Among these new cultural agents were ‘authors,’ writers whose claim to cultural authority did not depend on their adherence to cultural precedents but on a faculty of verbal inventiveness.” I was pleasantly shocked that the faithfulness an author keeps to his or her rank isn’t the most important thing, especially during times where place in society was everything. Verbal inventiveness, which I’m assuming is how creative one can be with their words, is such a genuine idea to help title an author. What we need is to be new and changing, which is what I think Pease is trying to convey.

Stakes and Implications

I feel as though Austin views performative in a much too simple way. His thought is so broad it is almost elementary, but Butler dives right in and carefully narrows down the subject. He claims, “…it is a model for thinking about crucial social processes where a number of matters are at stake.” He includes the nature and production of identity, the function of social norms, the fundamental problem of what today we call “agency” in English, and lastly the relations between the individual and the social change. Obviously, each of their stakes greatly differ. Is Butler saying we are always going to be limited in certain acts we partake in?

I’m thinking that social acts are too great an influence over our individual acts. Living in our world in present day, many feel we are ruled by social media and influential figures around us. The consequences of our actions, whether we realize we are being influenced or not, is our issue that needs to be corrected. The language we pick up upon, or our particular acts of promising has become such a sub conscience thing.

Mass media has so many positives and just as many negatives. It’s the balance of how we partake that is the issue. I unfortunately doubt it will ever be solved.

Literature as intertextual

“…the very centre of the narrative reminds us that this novel is about the dangerous consequences of the pursuit and the expression of knowledge” (Shelley 31). In my opinion all fiction novels are derived from a nonfiction idea. In Culler’s “Nature of Literature”, literature viewed as intertextual is a theory I completely agree with. Frankenstein, for example, though complete fiction, is created with idea of three books in Shelley’s head. Paradise Lost, the tale of Prometheus, and lastly Symposium. Shelley’s work transforms these stories into an “original” novel. “The Modern Prometheus” is actually the subtitle for this novel, giving the beginning story where this idea derived its credit.

This theory of  intertextuality may be misunderstood with the notion that copying is accepted. But imitation is the greatest form of flattery. The idea of a “monster” created by mankind is so intriguing, Shelley was able to spinoff into another world with a storyline that has inspired many others and their works. But no matter how many use Shelley as their influence, each story will be traced back to the original three novels.

Below I added links incase anyone was curious about any of the three stories from above:

https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist257s02/students/Becky/prometheus.html

https://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/intro/text.shtml

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v12/n17/jonathan-coe/conversions

Shannen Coleman

Hi Everyone!

I’m Shannen Coleman, and I am an English Major in the process of receiving my Bachelor’s here at QC. Next, I am hoping to complete my Master’s in Library Science. I absolutely love to read and can’t wait to get started on this semester’s stories. I recently stopped traveling for my job so I’m excited to get back into the routine of classes and fully focus. See you all soon!