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Our Frankenkickstarter is ALIIIVE!

Our Kickstarter is live! 

Our Kickstarter campaign is live as of right now! Help us get the funds we need to make this anthology all it can possibly be!! The campaign has amazing perks, and you should definitely go over to Kickstarter right now and check it out!! 

 

Here’s a bit more info:

We Shall Be Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Two Centuries On will feature a broad range of fiction stories, from direct interactions with Shelley’s texts to explorations of the stitched, assembled body and narrative experiments in monstrous creations. We Shall Be Monsters is a fiction collection that will feature explorations of disability through Frankenstein, queer and trans identity, ideas of race and colonialism. Shelley’s story provides a space for exploring a multitude of identities through the figure of the sympathetic outsider. Frankenstein’s “monster” is a figure of Otherness, and one that can tell stories of exclusion and social oppression.

About the Editor 

Derek Newman-Stille is a 7-time winner of the Prix Aurora Award, the highest award in Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is currently also editing Over the Rainbow: Folk and Fairy Tales from the Margins (Exile, 2018), and has written for publications like Quill & Quire, Accessing the Future and The Playground of Lost Toys. He has published academic works in works like The Canadian Fantastic in Focus, Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, and Misfit Children: An Inquiry into Childhood Belongings. In his academic life, Derek is a scholar of disability and queer studies, examining how popular media portray oppressed identities. In his role as a critic, writer, and interviewer, Derek seeks to open up discussions about speculative fiction, fantastica, and the imagination.

The rewards: 

At the Electric level, you’ll receive an ebook copy of the anthology.

At the Monster Itself level, you’ll receive a physical copy of the book.

At the Monstrous Renaissance level, in addition to a copy of the anthology, you will receive a selection of Renaissance’s complete novels in ebook format. To find out more about the listed books and their authors, please visit https://renaissancebookpress.com/.

The Monstrous Selves level, in addition to having your name listed on the supporters’ page and receiving a copy of the book. allows you to submit a picture and Nathan Caro Fréchette will “monsterize” you, turning you into Frankenstein’s monster:

Derek
Derek

 

Frankenderek
Frankenderek

At the Raising the Writer level, in addition to having your name on the supporters’ page and receiving a copy of the book, you’ll be able to participate to an exclusive writing workshop on Google Hangout to explore your inner writer and improve your writing skills.

Stretch goals  

Audible Monsters: at 4,000 CA$, we will produce an audio version of the book.

A Monstrous Instruction: at 6,000 CA$, we will produce an ebook of Derek Newman-Stille’s The Essential Frankenstein 101 Syllabus. We will also record video lectures and discussions with the following experts:

– Scholarly Discussion on Frankenstein by Anya Heise-von der Lippe from Universitat Tubingen;

– Scholarly Discussion on the Universal Studios Frankenstein Films and Queer Identities by Sarah Milner from Trent University

– Scholarly Discussion on Frankenstein and Monstrous Geographies by Erin Vander Wall, George Washington University

– Scholarly Discussion on Frankenstein and 19th Century Horror by Sean Moreland from Ottawa University

– Lecture on Frankenstein, Disability, and Gender by Derek Newman-Stille from Trent University

– Scholarly Discussion on Frankenstein and Colonialism by Ashley Morford

If this stretch goal is reached, we will include a DVD of the full selection of lectures and/or links to streaming versions of the videos to all reward levels

A Monstrous Display: at 7,000CA$, we will produce digital Frankenstein Art by Derek Newman-Stille and Nathan Caro Fréchette, dramatic readings of sections from Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein, and a Frankenstein radio play performance. These audio and digital art files will be added as a CD and/or downloadable resource with every reward level

Well, what are you still doing here? You should be over on Kickstarter!! 

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Eyes of a Monster

Eyes of a Monster

A review of Junji Ito’s Frankenstein (VIZ Media, 2013)

By Derek Newman-Stille

Dialogue is important in Junji Ito’s Frankenstein, but it is the eyes of the characters that speak louder. Whole worlds of suffering and histories of torment speak through the eyes of the characters in Junji Ito’s adaptation. The monster has strange, gaslit eyes that speak of an otherworldliness that is far more distancing than the green skin, electrodes or stitches of the Universal Studios Frankenstein. And yet, despite the otherworldly look of the monster’s eyes, Dr. Frankenstein’s eyes are far more haunted. Junji Ito manages to imbue the doctor’s eyes with years of torment, but also with a distant look of someone who has spent his life looking off into the next horizon. Victor’s eyes are draped in shadow, sunken to illustrate what obsession does to a person. It’s as though his body is consuming itself with its passion for discovery… and later with its horror at that same discovery.

The manga’s use of black and white has the power to focus the reader’s attention on shadows and depth, which Junji Ito uses to his advantage to create haunting, inescapable scenes.

Junji Ito’s monster is a hulking, awkward, bandaged figure that seems to mock humanity with its presence on the page. As much as it emulates the human form, the monster sits on the page like an insectile monster, its limbs resembling that of a praying mantis. Junji Ito marbles the flesh of the monster with rot, giving texture to every part of the monster’s body that is revealed through the bandages.

Although I tend to read Mary Shelley’s monster as sympathetic, there is none of this sympathy to be evoked from Junji Ito’s monster. There is none of the pathos or emotional connection. Junji Ito’s monster is a murderer who just wants to hurt humanity whenever possible. Part of this may be the shortened scene of the monster’s interaction with Felix, Safie, the old man, and their family. Instead of getting a sense of the monster wanting to learn from humanity only to be spurned at his only source of connection to humanity, this monster’s encounter with the family feels shortened and Junji Ito focusses far more on the murders that the monster perpetrates. Although, like Shelley’s monster, Junji Ito’s monster is eloquent, he has far fewer opportunities to talk or share his feelings and understandings of the world with his reader. We don’t, for example, hear the monster’s discourse about his own abjection and the horrors of loneliness.

Junji Ito gives us a more horror-filled tale of monstrosity without the complicated pathos that is frequently seen through recent adaptations of Mary Shelley’s text. This monster is meant to evoke terror.

To find out more about Junji Ito’s Frankenstein, go to https://www.viz.com/frankenstein-junji-ito-story-collection

An Interview with Frankenstein Scholar Sarah Milner

An Interview with Frankenstein scholar Sarah Milner, Trent University.

By Derek Newman-Stille

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Sarah Milner is a researcher at Trent University. Her interests include textual adaptations, transformative texts, film studies, and the filmography of James Whale in addition to her studies of Frankenstein. Milner is also a bluegrass musician, a performer, and radio personality.

 

In our interview, Sarah Milner discusses Frankenstein’s monster as an outsider, the Universal Frankenstein films, the work of director James Whale, gender, textual adaptation, Frankenstein stories for children, and humanizing the monster.

 

Click on the link below to check out our scholarly interview with Sarah Milner:

We Shall Be Monsters scholarly interviews

 

 

 

Poor Monster

Poor Monster

A review of Charles de Lint’s “Pity The Monsters” in The Ultimate Frankenstein (Simon & Schuster Inc., 1991)

By Derek Newman-Stille

I was surprised to see that Charles de Lint set his Frankenstein tale Pity The Monsters in the city he invented – Newford – a city that he generally sets tales of fairies and fantasy in, but in doing so, he illustrated the fantasy quality of Frankenstein tales, and he stuck to areas that he has often evoked in his Newford-centred stories. De Lint used a Frankenstein tale to explore ideas of poverty and homelessness, setting his tale in the impoverished part of Newford generally called The Tombs, an area of abandoned buildings that house squatters of the human and supernatural variety. De Lint explores the interweaving of normal city life with the uncanny, as he generally does in his Newford tales, having characters pulled out of their normate lives as they encounter something seemingly otherworldly. He illustrates to his audience that normalcy is a facade, a construction, and that it is a thin veneer that shows its artificiality when scratched.

Pity The Monsters is a tale that explores ideas of mental illness and altered perceptions while also examining the dispossession that often faces people with mental illness. It explores parental abuse and violence, entitlement and bodies, because Frankenstein IS a tale of violence, parental abuse, and entitlement over the bodies of others. It is a tale about the pain of Otherness and rejection and a tale about the policing of othered bodies.

To find out more about Charles de Lint, go to https://www.sfsite.com/charlesdelint/

An Interview with Ashley Caranto Morford, author of “My Name is Wollstonecraft” in We Shall Be Monsters

Interview with Ashley Caranto Morford, author of “It Was On A Joyful Night in November” in We Shall Be Monsters

By Derek Newman-Stille

ashleymorford

Q: To begin our interview, could you tell readers a little bit about yourself?

 

Caranto Morford: Hi everyone! Thank you so much for supporting this project! I’m Ashley Caranto Morford. My pronouns are she/her. I identify as mad and am on the asexual spectrum. I am a woman of colour, a member of the Visayan and Luzonese diasporas on my mother’s side and British on my father’s side. I am currently a PhD student in Literature and Book History at the University of Toronto, which occupies the territories of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinaabe nations.

 

Q: What inspired you to explore the privilege Victor occupies in this story? Victor’s arrogance in seeking to create life has always struck me as an act of a person in privilege. What in Mary Shelley’s tale inspired you to see his privilege and arrogance?

 

Caranto Morford: I wanted to emphasize that Mary Shelley’s Victor is representative of colonial scholarship. Victor is representative of Western science’s ongoing legacies of exploiting marginalized communities without consent. He steals from communities under the banner of research, for instance in his taking of body parts from graves and other spaces without the consent of those human and other-than-human peoples. As is also representative of colonial scholarship, he refuses to be in ongoing relationship or kinship with those communities, which is emphasized when he refuses to be in relationship with his Creation. Further, the desire to know everything and to think that one has the right to know everything is a colonial desire. We must accept, respect, and understand that there are certain knowledges that not everyone has the right to, but, as is too often true of colonial scholarship, Victor does not honour that.

 

Q: You evoke a commonality between the blind man De Lacey from Shelley’s story and Victor’s creation Wollstonecraft. What inspired you to connect these two individuals?

 

Caranto Morford: In the Nick Dear adaptation of Frankenstein, De Lacey is an educator and a mentor to the Creature. They grow close, they teach one another and learn from one another, and, at times, their discussions engage with and confront ableism, albeit their discussions and moments of learning/teaching are often problematic and colonial. But I wanted to honour the close connection they grow to have in the Dear adaptation, and especially to honour it and re-imagine it from a decolonial lens.

 

Q: You explore a multiplicity of identities in the small community in which Wollstonecraft has found themself. What inspired you to evoke so many different identities?

 

Caranto Morford: Representation matters. This world is filled with diverse people, yet all too many mainstream movies and books present the world as narrowly white, cisgender, heterosexual, neurotypical, able-bodied, thin. And, when those of us from marginalized positionalities are represented in mainstream media, it is all too often in stereotypical, highly problematic, highly oppressive, highly colonial ways. That needs to change. Seeing ourselves represented in our humanities in films and books is so crucial in helping us to understand and love our beautiful and diverse identities and selves. I want to see the world represented in its diversity through films and books, and I want films and books to celebrate the beauty of decolonial pasts, presents, futures, and ways of being.

 

Q: Your story brings out the way that Mary Shelley’s text was haunted by colonialism. What inspired you to bring out these colonial aspects of the narrative?

 

Caranto Morford: The novel was written when the British Empire was the world’s dominant colonial force. The ways in which the text is shaped by colonial ideologies and the ways that it both grapples with but also upholds colonialism has always interested me, and yet I don’t think that the colonialism and the anti-colonial potentials of the text get talked about enough. I wanted to bring these aspects to the forefront. What about the shift in tone from the 1818 and 1831 versions, with the 1831 version taking on more overt mentions of and connections to colonialism and imperialism through Clerval? The main story of Shelley’s text, too, is buttressed by the story of Arctic exploration, and European/Western exploration of the Arctic is deeply intertwined with colonialism and imperialism. Yet Mary seems incredibly skeptical of Western colonial society’s desire for knowledge. Walton is egotistical and dislikeable, as is Victor, and both of their journeys to gain knowledge are dangerous and destructive.

 

Q: In your story, you speak of a “decolonial love”. Could you tell us a bit more about why that spoke to you so strongly? Connectedly, the notion of “found family” seems to shape a lot of the ideas in this story. What inspired you to explore Victor’s creation accessing a familial structure?

 

Caranto Morford: Colonialism has dictated that the most significant love, the one that we should privilege above all others, is monogamous romantic-sexual love. Colonialism has suggested that, to be successful, one must get married and have a nuclear family — that that is something everyone should desire. As a person on the ace spectrum, I want to challenge those ideas. I want to emphasize how significant, intimate, and beautiful friendships and the love of and for friends can be and is. I want to celebrate platonic love and the joys of platonic love.

 

Q: Your story discusses many different academic texts, particularly those with an activist quality. What evoked this desire to share these texts with Victor’s creation? Was this a way of educating Mary Shelley’s character about ways of occupying a decolonial world?

 

Caranto Morford: Absolutely. These books have been such a gift and privilege for me to read; they are so full of wisdom, so full of decolonial teachings, written by such amazing activists, and they are not read nor celebrated enough in mainstream spaces. Sharing these texts with Wollstonecraft — and Wollstonecraft’s reciprocal act of sharing these texts with readers — was also a way of speaking back to the Creature’s education in the Shelley text, wherein they read texts that have been labelled “canonical” and yet these texts often perpetuate toxic colonial ideas. I want to challenge what we consider to be “the literary canon,” and the kinds of teachings and authors that get privileged through the mainstream “canon”.

 

Q: Where can readers find out more about your work and see what you are up to?

 

Caranto Morford:You can follow me on Twitter: @ashleycmorford

 

An Interview with Lena Ng, author of “Love Transcendent” in We Shall Be Monsters

Interview with Lena Ng, author of “Love Transcendent” in We Shall Be Monsters

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Q: To begin our interview, could you tell readers a little bit about yourself?

 

Ng: I love reading and the beauty of prose. I grew up in a house filled with books and am trying to fill my own home with them as well. I am fortunate to live close to a library but I like to have my own copy of books I especially love so I can make notes and re-read on a whim.

 

Q: What spoke to you about Mary Shelley’s story? What appealed to you about Frankenstein?

 

Ng: I always liked the theme of the misunderstood monster – Beauty and the Beast, The Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray.  This theme combined with the theme of scientific innovation with unintended consequences, which has modern-day applications with today’s technological speed, makes Frankenstein a powerful story.

 

Q: I am fascinated by your focus on the figure of the surgeon. What attracted you to exploring Victorian surgery for this story?

 

Ng: I had read an article about the Anatomical Venus, 18th-century wax female cadavers which were used to teach anatomy because of the low availability of women’s bodies for dissection. The figures were morbidly beautiful and the idea stuck with me.

A link to the article:

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/may/17/anatomical-venus-anatomy-human-biology-joanna-ebenstein-books

 

Q: Why create a surgeon who is still a student?

 

Ng: I wanted a vulnerable character, not someone cynical or jaded. An idealistic character confronted by the limitations of the body, who wanted to overcome those limitations. The reader could then feel his fear and trepidation with him and understand his motives.

 

Q: I was really interested in the way that you had James, your main character, find Victor Frankenstein’s journal. What appealed to you about the idea of bringing the personal notes of Frankenstein into your story?

 

Ng: I liked the thought of James inhabiting Frankenstein’s fictional world and building on his work, paralleling how science progresses from previous science.

 

Q: The theme of love is strong in this story, and, particularly, of love after death. What encouraged you to think about love as a key factor of the Frankenstein narrative and in your own story?

 

Ng: In 2012, when my father was in the ICU, my love for him wanted to keep him alive indefinitely on life support, despite there being no hope for recovery after his massive stroke. The desperation of arguing with his doctors who I knew were right, but I didn’t want to believe. It was difficult for my family to finally accept the decision to let him go. Like in Frankenstein, sometimes horror can arise from the best of intentions, such as scientific advancement or love or loneliness, and it’s a theme that comes up repeatedly in my work.

 

Q: I was fascinated by the scene of James interacting with the spiritualist. What inspired the inclusion of a spiritualist and seance in this story?

 

Ng: I’m amazed at how much we know in terms of how our bodies work and how the universe works, and how much there is still to discover. The spiritualist represents all of the unknown and unanswerable, and the part of us which hopes that we are more than the sum of our parts.

 

Q: In your description of Olivia, there seemed to be an almost Snow White fairy tale element. What fairy tale elements influenced your story?

 

Ng: The stories of Hans Christian Anderson, such as The Little Match Girl or the original Little Mermaid (not the Disney version), have themes of sacrifice and redemption, themes that resonate with me.  His stories’ ‘happily ever after’ are underscored with sadness which I’ve tried to have as well.

 

Q: Your story plays with ideas of freedom versus a feeling of being caged. What inspired you to explore these images?

 

Ng: Again it relates back to my father; his body was there but he wasn’t. But his death doesn’t mean I can’t have a relationship with him, as a friend said to comfort me.

 

Q: How can readers find out more about what you are up to?

 

Ng: I have an ebook collection of short stories called “Under an Autumn Moon.” Some of my short stories, mainly comedic pieces, can be read on-line on Antimattermag.com, Fairytalemagazine.com, or Polar Borealis (PDF). I’m trying to find a publisher for my Gothic romance Darkness Beckons, also set in the Victorian era. Otherwise, I’m a digital hermit with no Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. Not even a cell phone.  I like being hidden away in my womb-like apartment, reading or writing.

 

A Frankensteinian Bluebeard Tale

A Frankensteinian Bluebeard Tale

A review of Kate Horsley’s The Monster’s Wife (Barbican Press, 2014)

By Derek Newman-Stille

While some would argue that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has some gothic elements to it, Kate Horsley’s The Monster’s Wife emphasizes these gothic characteristics. Set during the period where Victor Frankenstein travels to an island in the Orkney’s to create the female monster for his creation, Horsley’s tale expands upon this episode of Shelley’s novel, highlighting the complexities of Victor’s arrival in the Orkney’s and his treatment of others in his travels.

Horsley sets her tale on a far off island, highlighting the possibility of a gothic tale, emphasizing the role of the island as a symbol of isolation. She maps ideas of bigotry and backward behaviour onto the people living on the island, underlying an assumption that many authors make about island culture – namely, that it is cut off from the ‘civilized world’. Gothic novels tend to emphasize isolation, and the use of the island symbol helps to bring attention to this idea of isolation (which is one that Mary Shelley describes as characteristic of both Frankenstein and the monster he creates). She further brings attention to this isolation characteristic by having Victor move into a mouldy old manner house and isolate himself from all of the islanders, becoming the mysterious, strange, handsome man that is characteristic of gothic fiction. His choice of locale – the mouldy old manner house – is also a central aspect of the gothic novel.

If the mouldy house wasn’t gothic enough, Horsley further emphasizes this gothic element by also having secret rooms. The notion of the gothic house belonging to a strange, mysterious gentleman evokes the fairy tale Bluebeard, which is supposed to be a lesson about becoming too curious. In Bluebeard, a young woman marries a man with a blue beard and he tells her that she can go anywhere in his large house except for one room that he keeps locked. This, of course, makes her more curious and when Bluebeard leaves the house and gives her the keys, she is overcome by her curiosity and unlocks the door to that room and finds all of Bluebeard’s previous wives who he has murdered because they similarly became curious about that room. In Horsley’s The Monster’s Wife, the character Oona is similarly overcome with her curiosity and finds the keys to Victor Frankenstein’s hidden room, and I will leave the rest a secret for you to discover when you read Horsley’s book.

Yet, Bluebeard isn’t the only fairy tale that Horsley weaves through her tale. Characters in the tale understand themselves through reference to fairy tales, relating elements of their life to the tales they have been told and there is a mythic vein that runs through island life. Oona, in particular, regularly relates her notions of selfhood and her experiences to fairy tales about Selkies, seals who can take off their skins and become human and who frequently hunger for the human experience and will abduct people to be their wives. As much as The Monster’s Wife is a reimagining of Frankenstein… it is also a fairy tale retold and shaped through the lens of the monstrous.

Horsley weaves elements of gothic romance through her tale – the dark old house, the closeness of death, the romantic stranger with a dark past, people haunted by their past, and the ever present quality of secrecy. Yet, she doesn’t isolate that gothic nature to Frankenstein or the castle he occupies. Horsley’s isolated island is similarly full of secrets for the reader to discover and a buried past to uncover. People are shunned for their differences on the island and celebrated for their similitude. It is a community shaped by gossip. Oona herself is shunned for her heart condition, which allows others to assume that she is weak and vulnerable and easy to prey upon.

This is a novel where knowledge is danger and threats lurk everywhere. It is a tale full of grey areas where there are no innocents or heroes, only shades of villain.

To find out more about Kate Horsley, visit http://www.katehorsley.co.uk

To discover more about The Monster’s Wife, go to http://www.katehorsley.co.uk/project-view/the-monsters-wife/

An Interview with Frankenstein Scholar Anya Heise-von der Lippe

An Interview with Frankenstein Scholar Anya Heise-von der Lippe, Universität Tübingen.

By Derek Newman-Stille

 

Anya Heise-von der Lippe is a scholar at the Universität Tübingen in Germany. Her research areas include The Gothic, Monsters and the Monstrous, Posthumanism, Disability Studies, Embodiments, Dystopias, Cyberculture, Digital Humanities, Textualities, Hypertext.

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Her publications include:

Posthuman Gothic (University of Wales Press, 2017)
‘”I keep saying brains” – Posthuman Zombie Narratives.’ Horror Studies 9.1 (2018).
‘Brave New World’. In: Christoph Reinfandt (ed.): Handbook of the English Novel, 1900-2015. DeGruyter, 2017.
‘Hypertext and the Creation of Choice: Making Monsters in the Age of Digital Textual (Re)Production’. In: Lorna Piatti-Farnell and Donna Lee Brien (eds.): New Directions in 21st-Century Gothic: The Gothic Compass. Routledge, 2015

‘Black as a Ghost’: Toni Morrison’s Hauntologies. Dissections 9 (2014)

In our interview, Anya Heise-von der Lippe discusses the relationship of Frankenstein to gothic fiction texts, Romanticism, and science fiction, ideas of normative bodies, gender, power and bodily control, ideas of science, and the experience of sizeism.

Click on the link below to check out our scholarly interview with Anya Heise-von der Lippe

We Shall Be Monsters scholarly interviews