Literary and Cultural Studies – Exercise 3 of 3

Text 3

If we now take these two points together: the language that is available to us shapes the way we perceive the world (text 1) and perspective impacts sympathy or empathy (text 2), then we can also argue that literature contributes to the way we experience our world and ourselves. In other words, literary texts contribute to the ongoing negotiations about what is and is not possible to see, do and think. This has cultural, political and also ethical implications for the interaction between text and context that both literary and cultural studies are interested in.

To understand a (literary) text in its context, one needs to be familiar with literary traditions that come before and after the composition date of the text. Consider Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, first published in 1818. The book has the subtitle “The modern Prometheus”. To interpret the novel, we thus need to understand the classical Prometheus myth, the story of the god who rebelled against the rule of Zeus and was punished for it. One of the interesting aspects of Shelley’s novel is that she tells the story of Victor Frankenstein’s science project from the perspective of Frankenstein himself but also from the perspective of the creature he brings to life. This complicates the reader’s sympathy for either of these two characters and encourages questions about ethical choices in science.

Shelley’s Frankenstein has been called a precursor of modern science fiction. With its imaginary engagement with a possible future, the novel also provided a formula that can be used to discuss and explore issues connected to the creation of artificial intelligence, as modern adaptations of the Frankenstein myth, like the film Ex Machina (2014), show.  

Exercise 3 (max. 6 points):

Mark the following statements as either true or false.