Time, terror and the technological imagination : Frankenstein's fictional legacy in the scientific age : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
There is a long-standing belief that there is an opposing discourse between science and the humanities in relation to the future of humankind. Attitudes towards the environment have changed radically in the last 200 years from a natural view to one where we dominate and re-order our environment to suit ourselves and to further the material self-interests of human beings, regardless of cultural and ecological consequences. In order for human beings to properly understand what is happening and why, we must begin to restore the balance between our relationship with Nature and our new technological worldview. The Introduction firstly addresses issues relating to the changing relationship between human beings and their environment over the last two centuries, and how literature and film have accurately predicted our collective future. It is my objective to illustrate how Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has remained one of the most potent pieces of literature foreshadowing the future of humankind, and the timeless quality of the theme of the controller out of control. The main text focuses on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and how the novel embodied humankind's growing anxieties and fears about our technological ambivalence, and I give an overview of how Frankenstein has paved the way for further literary and cinematic predictions of our future in artificial and synthesised environments dominated by the new frontier of genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and beyond, and how these technologies will impact on our cultural worldview and the future evolution of humankind.