About Frankenfiction

The remix, the mashup, and the reboot have come to dominate Western popular culture. These texts are the ‘monsters’ of our age—hybrid creations that lurk at the limits of responsible consumption and acceptable appropriation. Like monsters, mashups offer audiences the thrill of transgression in a safe and familiar format. And like other popular texts before them, they are often read by critics as a sign of the artistic and moral degeneration of contemporary culture.

With this context in mind, this blog explores the boundaries and connections between contemporary remix culture and its Others (adaptation, parody, the Gothic, Romanticism, postmodernism). It often does so by examining remix culture’s most ‘monstrous’ and liminal texts: Frankenfictions, or commercial narratives that insert fantastical monsters into classic literature and popular historical contexts. In this definition, Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein serves as a touchstone, offering an ideal metaphor for appropriative creativity in the twenty-first century.

Frankenfiction includes direct appropriations of classic literature, like the bestselling Quirk Classics novels, but also literary-historical dramas like the Sky/Showtime TV series Penny Dreadful (2014–2016), the depiction of monsters through an historical aesthetic in Travis Louie’s photorealistic paintings, and much, much more. It is monstrous not only because of the fantastical monsters it contains, but because of its position on the boundary between 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 critical discussions of remix. 

About the Author

Dr Megen de Bruin-Molé is a Teaching Fellow in Digital Media Practice with the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.

Previously she worked as a PhD researcher with Cardiff University (also the University of Amsterdam), studying the way 21st-century culture uses and abuses the Gothic narratives of the 19th century. For the past three years she has been reading and writing about Frankenfiction, a.k.a. the mashup of fantastical monsters and historical fiction. She is the author of several academic articles on remix, neo-Victorian fiction, and popular culture.

Megen is an editor with the Critical Posthumanism Network’s Genealogy project. She was previously the central editor and social media manager for the literary organisation Poetry International.

You can find more information about Megen (and her work) on Academia.edu, Facebook, and Twitter.

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