Mary Shelley's Novels, the Guillotine, and Contemporary Horror Film Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 19, 2019
  • Lacefield, Kristen Elizabeth
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Assessments of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein commonly refer to it as a seminal work of proto-science-fiction, a narrative that not only captured certain modern ideas of its time but also prophesied the anxieties that would emerge fully almost two centuries later in response to accelerating technological and scientific developments. However, despite the nearly ubiquitous recognition of Frankenstein's influence on modern popular culture, there are few comparative studies of Shelley's novel and its derivatives among popular modern films. Moreover, Frankenstein's influence on modern film has been underestimated; that is, its influence extends to more cinematic genres and works than the limited examples for which it has been credited. Also, scholars have largely ignored the artistic prescience and modern influence of Shelley's later work of sci-fi/horror, The Last Man. In light of this critical deficiency, I advocate moving beyond analyses of Frankenstein's obvious derivatives to study films which fuse her novels' motifs with appeals to twentieth-century and post-millenium audiences. I also employ the historical symbol of the guillotine--introduced in the late eighteenth century--as a metaphor for anxieties related to modernity and evoked in Shelley's works and modern horror films.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Taylor, Beverly
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2013

This work has no parents.