The Frankenstein Myth: Echoes of Frankenstein, Technological Anxieties, and the Monstrous Posthuman in Twenty-First Century Science Fiction Film

McCormack-Clark, Jack
Piatti-Farnell, Lorna
Craig, Geoffrey
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) has been the subject of resurgence through multiple forms of media and has become a prominent phenomenon in popular culture. The name Frankenstein is often referenced regarding amoral or questionably ethical scientific and technological development. Outside of literal interpretations of the original text, I have noticed reoccurring trends and echoes within contemporary science fiction films that adhere to the thematic elements of the Frankensteinian narrative. These trends suggest that a Frankensteinian mythos is present within our Western cultural consciousness. However, previous scholarship has not interrogated this mythos beyond simply acknowledging its presence. Nor has a model or method been devised to observe, analyse, or track how this mythos adapts.

Through my extensive analysis, my thesis establishes a working model for the Frankenstein Myth that adheres to the conventions of the hypertext. This model presents a clear and logical method as to how the Frankensteinian themes transmute into and communicate with other texts connected within a franchise through contemporary anxieties related to scientific and technological development. It also shows how they thread through unrelated texts to show this transmission beyond a linear narrative. My thesis focuses on the reoccurrence and resurrection of key elements of the Frankensteinian narrative as a mythos that filters through and evolves with the Western-American cultural psyche. Using a thematic analysis, this thesis observes this trend specifically within three late twentieth and early twenty-first century continuing science fiction franchises which contend with the notion of scientific and technological creation: Terminator (1984-present), and Jurassic Park (1993-present) and Alien (1979-present). This is done using a meta intertextual framework to analyse the contemporary anxieties that continue to resurge and communicate through these franchises. This allows me to analyse these films against scientific theories and developments that appear within the franchises. Analysis of the myth and the creation of this model reveals how these themes transmute through the Western socio-historical cultural consciousness and the ever-evolving legacy of Mary Shelley’s nightmare.

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