Diane Malmstrom, San Jose State University, 2008 firstname.lastname@example.org
Last revised 5/19/2008
TechnoRomanticism may at first appear to be a new, trendy word set forth for the computer age. However, the concept of TechnoRomanticism has been in practice since Mary Shelley first penned her novel Frankenstein in 1818. For TechnoRomanticism, before it was so named, is what ultimately drove Shelley to present to the world Victor Frankenstein and his creature; the blending of technology and the Romantic Era written word. Anxiety, fear and the excitement of change brought on by the Industrial Revolution caused Romantics to produce volumes of work and in turn, the technological advances they feared helped to propel these texts to the forefront of literary circles for the next one hundred and ninety years.
This digital project is yet another example of how advancing technology is keeping Frankenstein alive. By combining modern day technology with themes from a classic novel, Dr Harris and her students have been able to make a unique mark on the internet age and also to continue Shelley’s penchant for creation. The purpose in creating this website is multifaceted, but primarily it is to keep the story of Frankenstein alive technologically through collaboration. The very fact that the information herein will be stored electronically in more than one location gives it a high survival rate.
An important factor to note, this work is a complete collaboration and relies on the use of many related texts, photographs, paintings and letters, along with a vast amount of historical data. The website as it is today would not have been possible if simply relying on the reading of Frankenstein alone. In order for this annotation to come into being, an understanding of the relations between culture, history and text was necessary.
While overwhelming facts regarding the Romantic Period in literature abound, one setting out on a task such as this soon realizes their importance. How can Gothic Literature be understood if not for reading Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto? And to what do we owe Ann Radcliffe and The Veiled Picture if not thanks for paving the way for Shelley and creating the early Byronic hero. Reading the almost inexhaustible list of related material that went into this project was overwhelming at times, but necessary. Delving deep into the letters and archives of a time gone past has provided invaluable knowledge. Reading Mary Shelley’s The Last Man following Frankenstein provided the contrast necessary for the detailed analysis of Frankenstein you see here,
The intention of this site is to provide the viewer with a lighter side of Frankenstein as they move through the two chapters represented. The use of the green background colors is a direct representation of the green creature whose popularity still exists in this 21st Century. The inclusion of the picture on the home page is to demonstrate how far and varied the interpretations of Shelley’s creature have come. The artwork, showing a childlike creature with large blue eyes, not yellow ones, is holding an even smaller voodoo creature doll, thus representing a more innocent creature, but one with “issues”. The website concentrates on how others have viewed Frankenstein through the years, primarily from a pop culture perspective, and on how the Creature, in turn, views others, specifically Safie and the cottagers, within the confines of Volume II, Chapters V and VI. The adaptation page is particularly relevant here in that it reinforces culture’s desire for viewing objects of interest.
The concept of Orientalism is addressed within the chapters as well. During the Romantic Period of literature, high interest was placed on Eastern Cultures and the mysteries they held. Distant places, and the people who come from those distant lands were especially alluring during this time and it is no wonder that the Creature noticed this exoticism in Safie and wanted it for his own. The inclusion of the painting Safie, One of the Three Ladies of Bagdad by William Clarke Wontner highlights Safie’s mystery. Here her veiled beauty is captured on canvas.
The inclusion of William Wordsworth’s poem “She was a Phantom of Delight” is intended to show the marked similarities with the Creatures first viewing of Safie. Wordsworth sees the woman in the poem as a vision, a supernatural beauty much in the same way the Creature describes the exotic woman of his desire.
The background design of this digital project is titled “Branches”. It was selected in order to bring a sense of nature to the website and also to represent the calmer, gentler side of the Creature. The blossoms on the tree bring a sense of tranquility to the site, and the green font was kept to keep the aesthetic of the theme, despite the suggestion against it. Black font appeared too jarring. The relationship between nature and Romantic authors is a strong one and by including it here; recognition of that fact is present and viewable. Mary Shelley’s world was ripe with a love of nature and she went to great lengths to bring that love back to her readers with her colorful and enthusiastic descriptions of her surroundings.
The layout of the website is one of ease and practicality. Basic navigational tools have been set in place to provide the user with easy flow between pages. By simply clicking on the links placed at the left-hand side of each page, the user may visit the page of choice without having to go back to a designated starting point for further direction.
The creation of this digital project has been a journey not unlike that which Victor Frankenstein embarked in order to produce his creature. From concept to realization, in a matter of weeks this project has seen intensive technological research, agonizingly long nights, and finally, perseverance and dedication to a final, somewhat shocking, if not miraculous outcome. Like Victor’s notebook, this rationale will serve as a basis for the creation. Furthermore, the knowledge and talents of those whose collaborative efforts made this website possible should be commended.