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A Discussion on Frankenstein and Workshops

Note: I’ve been having issues with my account, finally settled them today, apologies for having this up so late.

The session of class on March 20th marked our return from Spring Break. Over the break, we all read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and completed our own transcription of the Moralitas from one of Henryson’s fables.

Before we got to the topics of the class, Professor Mueller informed us about an Arthurian film that was being shown on campus. He offered extra credit for those that would be able to attend the film, and there was a brief discussion about the fact that most Arthurian films tend to be poor quality (with Monty Python and the Holy Grail being the best of them, of course) but the one being shown on campus was supposedly an exception to this rule of mediocrity.

We then moved on to the discussion of our transcriptions. The class broke off into pairs (and a few groups of 3) to compare their transcriptions and see what their partners did that was either similar or different to their own work. After these small group discussions concluded, we reformed as a class and shared what we noticed. Many people discussed not wanting to over-gloss the text and thereby insult the intelligence of the reader. This was a concern that Professor Mueller agreed with, and pointed out that one of the editions we examined was a teaching edition and therefore had extra notes to clarify some things.

I mentioned that in my edition, I had chosen to represent the character that looked like an f that represented an s as a bolded lowercase f when creating my transcription, while others chose to just change the f to an s. Both methods are valid, as pointed out by the professor, and it comes down to how the editor wants to recreate the text they are working with.

We then moved on to Frankenstein, opening the discussion by being assigned to find a passage that we felt characterizes Frankeinstein, the Monster, or Walton. From this discussion, the class found that many of our ideas about each character were very similar, which I found interesting, as I believe a few pairs of people selected the same passages for their given character.

We were then tasked with breaking into groups again in order to discuss the essays we read before class. Each group had a similar theme to their essays, allowing for each group to present the common themes they found in their discussion, which let the class learn how thoughts on the work have been formed over the years. We discussed the differences between the 1818 edition and the 1831 edition. I was surprised to learn that the 1831 edition is the one that most people are used to reading in high school while the 1818 edition was the one we had read for class (and now I want to find my copy of the 1831 edition and compare them). We then transitioned into the third workshop, which tasked us with comparing the title pages of the 1818 edition (found in our books) and the 1831 edition (provided via handout and the projector). We were assigned with creating a write-up on these differences, and in class, we discussed some of them – the presence of Mary Shelley’s name on the 1831 edition, the presence of images on the 1831 edition, the dedication on the backside of the 1818 title page being the most prevalent – before class eventually ended. Next week, we will probably discuss the title pages a bit more (well, I hope we do).

Again, sorry that this is being posted so late, but my account issues have been handled.

Illumination of “Follower”



The poem that I chose to illuminate for our workshop was Follower, a poem by Seamus Heaney from his collection Death of a Naturalist. Seamus Heaney’s poetry has been in my life for many years, as my grandfather, the son of an Irish immigrant, came to love the poetry, often regarding Heaney as the only poet he could actually tolerate. Follower was a poem that he had read to me once before his death, and because of that, the poem has some sentimental value to me. Beyond my personal anecdote, however, I am also a fan of Seamus Heaney, finding comfort in the way that his poems were written about how the passing nature of our lives and how none of it is ever set in stone.

In my opinion, Follower highlights this very thing, by following the story of a young boy that would, well, follow his father around as he worked the fields. His father did not regard the boy as a nuisance, and for the most part, just seemed to tolerate the boy’s presence. However, the boy is the narrator of the poem, and as he grows older alongside his father, he finds himself complaining about his father’s endless presence, not appearing to see the irony in the fact that the man he once followed endlessly as a boy now relies him as an elderly man. The narrator of the poem comments, “Today / It is my father who keeps stumbling / Behind me, and will not go away.” (Lines 22-24) I took these lines to mean that the narrator does not understand why his father is following him. The word “stumbling” applies that his father is having trouble keeping up with him, which is why I believe him to be an elderly man.

My illumination attempts to reflect my belief that the narrator’s father is an old man by the time the poem is occurring in. To show this, I drew to figures on the page that were both split down the middle. The figure in the foreground is an adult male, split between the appearance of a man that one might associate with being a farmer willing to have his son be following him around the fields and a man dressed in a suit wearing sunglasses that conceal his eyes. I made the second half of the man look this way because I believe it shows that he is indifferent to his father, who can be seen behind him as one half of the character in the background.

The character in the background has been split between the appearance of a small boy that is directly behind the man that appears to be a farmer and an elderly man that is behind the “well-dressed” man. I attempted to use the colors available to make it clear that while these two men are related, the younger of the two has done what he can to distance himself from his father, causing him to not understand why his father is following behind him.

I had briefly considered having there be a third part for these split characters, with a young son for the narrator, to try and display how he may finally come to understand the experience of his father, but I felt that it would not serve to illuminate the poem. I think that the drawings, as they currently are, serve to show that any person is capable of reminiscing about their roots while also failing to grasp the significance they have on their lives in the current day. I also chose to have the second man be in “nicer” clothes in father to highlight the idea that this narrator, the second man, was effectively standing on the foundation provided by his father to improve his own life.