domesticity and motherhood


Frankenstein's Daughters: Mary Shelley's Feminist Legacy to SF
Jessica Dillard, Science, Technology, and Culture senior

Often hailed as the "mother of science fiction," Mary Shelley has, with Frankenstein, left behind a legacy that still resonates today. Frankenstein marks the beginning of a science fiction tradition in which authors challenge their audiences to carefully consider the ramifications of scientific creation. Specifically, Shelley asks her readers to think about those gendered tensions that emerge with the dissemination of science in the post-Enlightenment period. Questions concerning domesticity, morality, and reproduction resonate throughout the 1818 edition of Frankenstein, revealing a distinctly critical female perspective on the future of science. In dialogue with scientists of her day, Shelley critiques both masculinist science and the society that fosters its progress; this dialogue is her legacy, as science fiction continues to evaluate science and the culture that produces it. Through her specific treatment of domesticity, morality, and reproduction, Shelley initiates a paradigm of gendered commentary continued by heiresses of her legacy even today.



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