Frankenstein@200

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Happy to be on the steering committee for Frankenstein@200 — a year-long series of events taking place at Stanford in 2018. I’ll be participating in a number of ways, including  talks and several courses related to Frankenstein, among other things. I’ll post details here in due time. Also be sure to check out the project website, which is still under construction, but which is already chock full of announcements and constantly being updated.

The year 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. The novel is eerily relevant today as we face ethical dilemmas around appropriate use of stem cells, questions about organ donation and organ harvesting, as well as animal to human transplants. Additionally, the rise of artificial intelligence portends an uncertain future of the boundaries between machines and humans. Frankenstein@200, will be a year-long series of academic courses and programs including a film festival, a play, a lecture series and an international Health Humanities Conference that will examine the numerous moral, scientific, sociological, ethical and spiritual dimensions of the work, and why Dr. Frankenstein and his monster still capture the moral imagination today. This project will be sponsored by the Stanford Medicine & the Muse Program in partnership with the Stanford Humanities Center, the Stanford Arts Institute, the Office of Religious Life, the Vice Provost for Teaching and LearningStanford Continuing Studies, the Cantor Arts Center, the Department of Art & Art History, and the Center for Biomedical Ethics.

Animating Frankenstein (Stanford Graphic Narrative Project, Nov. 16, 2016)

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This coming Wednesday (Nov. 16, 2016 at 6pm), I will be presenting a talk titled “Animating Frankenstein: Film, Comics, Visual Culture.” The event is organized by the Stanford Graphic Narrative Project (under the leadership of Mia Lewis and Scott Bukatman) and hosted by the Stanford Humanities Center. More info here.

Postnaturalism reviewed in MEDIENwissenschaft

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The latest issue of MEDIENwissenschaft: Rezensionen/Reviews includes a nice review of my book Postnaturalism: Frankenstein, Film, and the Anthropotechnical Interface. 

For those of you who read German, you can find the entire text of the review, by Anya Heise-von der Lippe (Tübingen/Berlin), here. For everyone else, here is a (rough) translation of the reviewer’s summary statement:

Postnaturalism offers a philosophical approach and an engagement with fundamental ontological and phenomenological questions of human and nonhuman materiality, which is indispensable especially for a post-postmodernity characterized by resource scarcity, climate change, and species extinctions, as well as the threat of a return to essentialist positions in politics and popular culture. Adapting a phrase from Bruno Latour, Denson counters the latter with a postnatural position: “We have never been natural” (24). Furthermore, Denson’s detailed examination — at the level of content, reception, and production — of Frankenstein adaptations is an asset for the analytical and production-aesthetic [produktionsästhetische] investigation of a central text (or modern myth) and its many adaptations in a wide range of text-critical disciplines: from media studies to literary to cultural studies.”

(Again, the translation is rough. Tweaks are more than welcome! Especially if you have suggestions for produktionsästhetisch or for making that first sentence more readable, drop me a line in the comments below…)

Finally, make sure you check out the entire issue of MEDIENwissenschaft, which is chock full of great stuff. Of particular interest to readers of this blog, among other things: the “Perspectives” section contains a longer piece on seriality and television series’ interrelations by Tanja Weber and Christian Junklewitz.

Check out the full contents of the issue here.

Postnaturalism reviewed in LWU

lwu-postnaturalismThe latest issue of Literatur in Wissenschaft und Unterricht, a special (English-language) issue on Serial Narratives edited by Kathleen Loock (a fellow member of the DFG research unit on “Popular Seriality”), includes a review of my book Postnaturalism: Frankenstein, Film, and the Anthropotechnical Interface. 

The review, by Dennis Büscher-Ulbrich of the University of Kiel, is mostly positive, though hardly uncritical. You can read the entire review here, but my favorite part must be a certain characterization of the book that appears in the midst of exposing what Büscher-Ulbrich takes as “the book’s theoretical Achilles’ heel” (namely, my lack of engagement with overtly political revolutions and with “recent post-Marxist political ontologies and metaphysics” in particular). In this context, Büscher-Ulbrich nonetheless flatteringly praises my “extraordinary powers of theoretical synthesis” and claims that

“[Postnaturalism] is one of the rare enough scholarly monographs whose collected footnotes alone provide an excellent education.”

Now, I recognize that it’s not for everyone (I have been criticized before for including “an entire second essay within an essay”) — and while I’m not sure I’d recommend taking your kids out of school and making Postnaturalism the primary textbook for their homeschooling (though you might do worse…) — I’m glad to see the footnotes getting some attention here from a reader who can appreciate the value of a page of text “below the line.”

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In any case, if Postnaturalism ever sees a second edition, I’ll certainly suggest this as a fitting blurb!

Check out the entire review:

And check out the entire special issue of LWU on Serial Narratives!

Out Now: [in]Transition 2.4

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The latest issue of [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film & Moving Image Studies has just been published. This is a special issue featuring video essays that emerged out of the NEH workshop on videographic criticism that I attended last summer at Middlebury College, organized by Jason Mittell and Christian Keathley. In addition to my video essay “Sight and Sound Conspire: Monstrous Audio-Vision in James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931)” — with peer reviews by Steven Shaviro and Drew Morton — the special issue also contains great pieces by Allison de Fren, Patrick Keating, Jaap Kooijman, and Michael Talbott. Check it out!