Grotesque Genius: The Aesthetics of Form and Affect in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

in Subjects Barbarian, Monstrous, and Wild
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Emphasizing the renewed relevance of Mary Shelley’s canonical Frankenstein in the posthuman era, Andries Hiskes reads Frankenstein’s Creature as a hybrid subject who, through practicing language, attempts to enter the dominant social and political structure. Though the Creature is commonly defined as a monster, Hiskes suggests that we may also read him in terms of the genius. Concurrently, the grotesque form of the Creature’s body problematizes categories of the human and non-human, challenging a social/political order based on natural order and inherited knowledge and, affectively, forcing subjects to confront and relate to his deviant body. Though pushing at the limits of these established structures, he and his creator are ultimately not permitted to exist within them. With this impasse in mind, this essay contemplates the importance of affect in any political practice that wishes to critically consider bodily difference.

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