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Frankenfiction: monstrous adaptations and gothic histories in twenty-first-century remix culture

De Bruin-Molé, Megen 2017. Frankenfiction: monstrous adaptations and gothic histories in twenty-first-century remix culture. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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In the twenty-first century, the remix, the mashup, and the reboot have come to dominate Western popular culture. Consumed by popular audiences on an unprecedented scale, but often derided by critics and academics, these texts are the ‘monsters’ of our age—hybrid creations that lurk at the limits of responsible consumption and acceptable appropriation. Like monsters, they offer audiences the thrill of transgression in a safe and familiar format, mainstreaming the self-reflexive irony and cultural iconoclasm of postmodern art. Like other popular texts before them, remixes, mashups, and reboots are often read by critics as a sign of the artistic and moral degeneration of contemporary culture. This is especially true within the institutions such remixes seem to attack most directly: the heritage industry, high art, adaptation studies, and copyright law. With this context in mind, in this thesis I explore the boundaries and connections between remix culture and its ‘others’ (adaptation, parody, the Gothic, Romanticism, postmodernism), asking how strong or tenuous they are in practice. I do so by examining remix culture’s most ‘monstrous’ texts: Frankenfictions, or commercial narratives that insert fantastical monsters (zombies, vampires, werewolves, etc.) into classic literature and popular historical contexts. Frankenfiction is monstrous not only because of the fantastical monsters it contains, but because of its place at the margins of both remix and more established modes of appropriation. Too engaged with tradition for some, and not traditional enough for others, Frankenfiction is a bestselling genre that nevertheless remains peripheral to academic discussion. This thesis aims to address that gap in scholarship, analysing Frankenfiction’s engagement with monstrosity (chapter one), parody (chapter two), popular historiography (chapter three), and models of authorial originality (chapter four). Throughout this analysis, Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein remains a touchstone, serving as an ideal metaphor for the nature of contemporary remix culture.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Uncontrolled Keywords: adaptation, parody, the Gothic, Romanticism, postmodernism
Funders: College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences 'Investing in Excellence' Scholarship
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 November 2017
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2021 01:20

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