Ally Wolfe, Broken Bodies, Remade Wholes

Join us for this week’s CuSPP seminar:

Broken Bodies, Remade Wholes:
Unwind as Frankenstein Retold and Reversed

Thursday 6 September, 1pm, Milgate Room, AD Hope Bldg, SLLL

New technologies create new opportunities for anxiety, and using human body parts to create life is a special kind of horrifying fictional procedure. At first glance, Unwind by Neal Shusterman and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein approach this concept in inverted ways. In Frankenstein, a ‘monster’ is built out of the parts of corpses, and rises against his horrified creator, while Unwind centres on a society that justifies breaking down its own children for their organs, and using these parts to sustain itself, until the children rise against it. Unwind is centred on the precept that that which is broken down still lives, in a divided state, controllable by the larger body to which it’s donated. The children broken down for parts are perceived and understood by the authorities of this fictional universe as criminals waiting to happen, excess bodies and liabilities. Frankenstein’s monster horrified Dr Frankenstein due to his perceived imperfection and lack of accuracy to his father’s vision of the perfect creation. Unwind is inspired to take its children apart due to that same disgust. Fear of what one has created and its difference from oneself pervades the horrors and potential horrors of both works.

In my paper I argue that Unwind mirrors Frankenstein in how it centres on an adult fear of the children it has created, placed specifically in a time and place where they have the technology and the lack of empathy to tell themselves that it is better not to ‘waste’ what they have made. Unwind and Frankenstein both delve into old fears and new technology, embodying and perpetuating a cycle of technology prompting anxiety prompting technology, until all fear what they have wrought.

Ally Wolfe is a PhD student in English Literature at ANU. Her work focuses on Young Adult fiction, dystopia, and technologies.


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