Mad Monster Party

I cannot believe that I didn’t assign you all to read my essay on the 1967 Rankin/Bass film Mad Monster Party! It was published last year in the The Journal of Dracula Studies.

Here’s the thesis paragraph or you can read the whole essay here:

Why does Mad Monster Party complicate its celebration of classic monsters by destroying them and replacing them with technology? Why are the human and nonhuman alike threatened by technology, even though the benevolent version of technology is the only promise the film offers to continue to propagate human cultural norms like heteronormative marriage? Mad Monster Party initially establishes monsters as an organized threat to humanity (led by the traitorous monster-creator Frankenstein, who now has apocalyptic powers as well), only to argue that monsters and humans alike face the greater threat of technology, which paradoxically can both destroy all matter and ensure survival of human culture. Thus, the film’s conclusion condenses the human and monster onto the axis of the organic and places the androids Francesca and Felix on the inorganic, privileging the replication of social structure over the organic body. Reading Mad Monster Party in this way reveals it to be a text that expresses basic mid-1960s cultural anxieties seen in other media productions of the time, but one that ultimately contradicts its progressive agenda by eliminating all threats to human heterosexual marriage: including the humans!

Final Collaborative Website Project
El pequeño Frankenstein

For your final project, you will work in groups to build a website that offers different theoretical perspectives on Frankenstein. Each group will collectively be responsible for writing one page on the site, finding Creative Commons images to use, and organizing your content. Individually, you will contribute a brief essay (~1000 words) that offers a literary argument about Frankenstein informed by a theoretical perspective and supported by secondary research.

The purpose of the site is to be informative about theoretical approaches to Frankenstein (so: not descriptive about the novel’s plot).

The organization of the site should show clear connections within the groups as well as differences between the groups (so: how would Group A’s theoretical approach distinguish itself from Group B’s?)

  • One group member responsible for contributing to a shared annotated bibliography (selecting the best 4–5 annotations from your group’s contribution)
  • One group member responsible for gathering images (including Voyant; be sure to use Creative Commons images and give attribution in a caption)
  • One group member responsible for managing Page layouts/organization
  • One group member responsible for hyperlinks (identify other web projects or resources to link to from your main page, and identify useful links within individual essays).

Voyant Assignment

This is the assignment for 11/29, since we will not meet that day.

The goal: familiarize yourself with Voyant, and use at least three of the tools either to answer a specific question or to generate new knowledge about the text.

The assignment: use Voyant to explore one of these two versions of Frankenstein (or: both, if you’re feeling inspired): Frankenstein1818.txt or Frankenstein1831.txt and produce three images with a brief 3–4 sentence description of what new insights the images can tell us about the novel. Post this on the course website. This should take you about an hour and a half. (if you have trouble downloading the texts, you can copy-and-paste here 1818 or here 1831.)

First, read the “Getting Started” and “Tools Index” pages here (note: Voyant was recently upgraded, so some of the tools may not work properly):

Getting Started

Tools Index

Second, use at least three of the tools at to visualize Frankenstein. I would advise you “export” the tool into a new URL and new window so that it can be examined full-screen. This is basically just playing around and exploring, with the aim of familiarizing yourself with the program. Experiment with searching for words, turning “stop words” on and off, and screwing around.

Third, take a screenshot of three visualizations you like best (or embed them like I did above if you can figure out how), upload them to the course website, and write a 3–4 sentence description for how each image tells us something new about Frankenstein or answers a specific research question.

What Is/Are the Digital Humanities?

According to Kirschenbaum, what is/are the Digital Humanities?

  • public form of scholarship that promotes collaboration [social undertaking (5)]
  • but also more personal and anonymous: social media encourages group participation as well as individual contributions.
  • a “network topology” (structure as opposed to a hierarchy)
  • research, teaching, and invention: intersection of computing and humanities.
  • Wikipedia! (has no limitations)
  • “term that has evolved into collaborative movement”
  • methodological outlook (4)

What’s DH doing in English Department?

  1. about text
  2. association between computers and composition
  3. convergence editorial theory and electronic editions
  4. hypertext and electronic literature
  5. cultural studies
  6. e-reading and text digitization

What’s DH doing in a theory class?

“DH is more akin to a common methodological outlook than an investment in any one specific set of texts or even technologies.” (4)

Macroanalysis: how does Jockers describe the pros and cons of the macroanalytic approach?

Pros Cons
·      Means of examining outside forces affecting writers

·      Challenging commonsense ideas

·      Can comprehend broad generalities (like genres)

·      Can explore reactions against literary and cultural trends

·      Can better question the canon

·      Does gender, ethnicity, and nationality play an impact.

·      Things we literally can’t see otherwise.

·      Not everything is digitized

·      Have to maintain interpretive insights at individual level

·      Macro: finding info, but still need imagination of scholar to make insights

·      Danger of quantification as being ends in itself. (alternative methodology)

·      Problematic to make generalizations about texts based on general sense of whole.

·      Doesn’t bring any new knowledge.