Technology and the Frankenstein Myth (Remote)

Instructor
Benjamin Laugelli
Course #
STS 2500
Credits
3
Online Course?
Yes
Engineering Course
Section
1
Days of the Week
MTWRF
Session
Session II
Course Dates
June 21 to July 15
Course Times
9:30 am to 11:45 am

The course begins with a close reading of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which is widely credited as the first science-fiction novel. Students discuss the novel’s depictions of science, the scientist/engineer, and technology and how they relate to contemporary techno-science, including emerging biotechnologies. As part of this analysis, students consider how the Frankenstein myth continues to shape public discourse about technology and society. To that end, students discuss case studies such as the debate about embryo research in Britain during the 1980s and current debates about gene-editing technologies and technologies of de-extinction. Students also analyze several science-fiction films and short stories that interact with, interpret, and update the Frankenstein myth, including films such as James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993), as well as a selection of Isaac Asimov’s robot stories. The course culminates in a research paper that examines public discourse about a controversial emerging technology together with a pitch for a companion science-fiction story that reflects on the technology’s potential social and ethical impacts.