Science Fiction Film & Television

‘An otherness that cannot be sublimated’

Shades of Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful and Black Mirror

Science Fiction Film & Television (2018), 11, (2), 257–275.

Abstract

This article traces some of the legacies of the Frankenstein narrative as it appears in the television series Penny Dreadful and Black Mirror. Both series deploy Frankenstein themes to explore the relationship between gender and technology. Drawing on the work of Julia Kristeva and others, it argues that the hybrid bodies of Lily in Penny Dreadful and Ash in the Black Mirror episode ‘Be Right Back’ are powerful examples of abjection and how it works differently across genders. Both series are part of a continuous reworking of Shelley’s text that demonstrates we are still living in the age of Frankenstein: a period of fascination with the body, gender and scientific innovation epitomised by the themes of Shelley’s story.

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Arya, Rina. Abjection and Representation: An Exploration of Abjection in the Visual Arts, Film, and Literature. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Abjection and Representation: An Exploration of Abjection in the Visual Arts, Film, and Literature Google Scholar

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. New York: Viking, 1973. Ways of Seeing Google Scholar

Botting, Fred. Limits of Horror. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2008. Limits of Horror Google Scholar

Byrnes, Alicia. ‘Alienating the Gaze: The Hybrid Femme Fatale of Under the Skin’. Deletion 9 ‘Deviation: The Perversions of Science Fiction’ (2015). http://www.deletionscifi.org/episodes/episode-9/alienating-the-gaze-the-hybrid-femme-fatale-of-under-the-skin/. Accessed 28 Oct 2016. Google Scholar

Creed, Barbara. ‘Horror and the Monstrous Feminine: An Imaginary Abjection’. Feminist Film Theory: A Reader. Ed. Sue Thornham. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1999. 251-66. ‘Horror and the Monstrous Feminine: An Imaginary Abjection’ Feminist Film Theory: A Reader 251 66 Google Scholar

Creed, Barbara. The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge, 1993. The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis Google Scholar

Doane, Mary Ann. ‘Technophilia: Technology, Representation and the Feminine’. Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. Ed. Sean Redmond. London: Wallflower, 2004. 182-90. ‘Technophilia: Technology, Representation and the Feminine’ Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader. 182 90 Google Scholar

Doane, Mary Ann. Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge, 1991. Femmes Fatales: Feminism Google Scholar

Homans, Margaret. Bearing the Word: Language and the Female Experience in Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writing. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1986. Bearing the Word: Language and the Female Experience in Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writing Google Scholar

Hurley, Kelly. The Gothic Body: Sexuality, Materialism and Degeneration in the Fin-de-siècle. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996. The Gothic Body: Sexuality, Materialism and Degeneration in the Fin-de-siècle Google Scholar

Kohlke, Marie-Luise and Christian Gutleben. ‘The (Mis)Shapes of Neo-Victorian Gothic Continuations, Adaptations and Transformations’. Neo-Victorian Gothic: Horror, Violence and Degeneration in the Re-Imagined Nineteenth Century. Ed. Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2012. 1-48. ‘The (Mis)Shapes of Neo-Victorian Gothic Continuations, Adaptations and Transformations’ Neo-Victorian Gothic: Horror, Violence and Degeneration in the Re-Imagined Nineteenth Century 1 48 Google Scholar

Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia UP, 1986. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection Google Scholar

Lee, Jason. Sex Robots: The Future of Desire. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. Sex Robots: The Future of Desire Google Scholar

Manea, Dragoş. ‘A Wolf’s Eye View of London: Dracula, Penny Dreadful and the Logic of Repetition’. Critical Survey 28.1 (2016): 40-50. ‘A Wolf’s Eye View of London: Dracula, Penny Dreadful and the Logic of Repetition’ Critical Survey 28 40 50 Google Scholar

Poore, Benjamin. ‘The Transformed Beast: Penny Dreadful, Adaptation and the Gothic’. Victoriographies 6.1 (2016): 62-81. ‘The Transformed Beast: Penny Dreadful, Adaptation and the Gothic’ Penny Dreadful 6 62 81 Google Scholar

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. The Coherence of Gothic Conventions. London: Methuen, 1986. The Coherence of Gothic Conventions Google Scholar

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1993. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus Google Scholar

Thomas, Calvin. Masculinity, Psychoanalysis, Straight Queer Theory: Essays on Abjection in Literature, Mass Culture and Film. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. Masculinity, Psychoanalysis, Straight Queer Theory: Essays on Abjection in Literature, Mass Culture and Film Google Scholar

Ungureanu, Camil. ‘Aestheticization of Politics and Ambivalence of Self-sacrifice in Charlie Brooker’s The National Anthem’. Journal of European Studies 45.1 (2015): 21-30. ‘Aestheticization of Politics and Ambivalence of Self-sacrifice in Charlie Brooker’s The National Anthem’ Journal of European Studies 45 21 30 Google Scholar

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