Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

Louise Economides

Commitee Members

Deborah Slicer, Kathleen Kane


Ecocriticism, Entropy, Postmodernism, Romanticism, Technological Sublime


University of Montana


Mary Shelley�s Frankenstein is today remembered as the progenitor of the science fiction genre, the first major literary work to link a long history of fictional narratives concerning the origins of life � notably drawing itself from the stories of Prometheus and Milton�s Paradise Lost � to the scientific rationalism of the enlightenment. Of the science fiction stories that would follow, Philip K. Dick�s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? perhaps remains one of the closest to Shelley�s novel in terms of its concerns and themes. Dick�s text is concerned with the thematic of the creation of human simulacra, but its interests are more involved with the ethical implications of technological advancement on society than the fantastic technologies he writes of. Given these similarities, notions of nature and the environment might seem ancillary to an analysis of these texts. These issues, however, are precisely what my thesis claims to be central to a proper understanding of Dick�s and Shelley�s novels. The aesthetic categories of the beautiful, and most importantly the sublime, are essential to this research. Both classic works of aesthetic theory � namely Burke and Kant � as well as mobilizations of the sublime that account for contemporary cultural trends � such as those of Fredric Jameson and Jean-Francois Lyotard � are utilized so as to track an epistemological shift in both conceptions of the sublime, as well as the relationship between humanity and its environment. This shift, from viewing the natural world as a space wherein humans immanently dwell, to a positivist notion of nature as resources for human manipulation � documented in Caroline Merchant�s The Death of Nature � can be linked to what Leo Marx describes as the movement from a natural to a technological sublime, and is both chronicled and critiqued in Frankenstein. Dick�s Androids picks up where Shelley�s novel leaves off, carrying an absolute ideological positivism to one possible conclusion, environmental and social crisis, inaugurating, interestingly, a return to a bizarre, and textually ironic spiritualism in the form of the religion Mercerism.



© Copyright 2011 Aaron Francis Schneeberger