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10 - Creatrix Witches, Nonbinary Creatures, and Shelleyan Transmedia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 March 2024

Omar F. Miranda
Affiliation:
University of San Francisco
Kate Singer
Affiliation:
Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts
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Summary

This chapter considers Shelley’s attempt to think before the “Error and Truth” of Enlightenment humanity, and before the binaristic split between the white male bourgeois Human and those not included in those definitions of humanity. Tracing his iconoclastic resistance to normative categories of gender, race, and the human as well as his idealistic attempt to recreate those categories in a reading of The Witch of Atlas, with its double creation of Witch and the Witch’s “sexless” creature, the chapter explores the poet’s radical understanding of gender and sex beyond the male–female binary alongside the poet’s commentary and critique on the dimorphic gender–sex systems circulating in discourse of his day. The chapter argues that his imagining of the creation of new beings – both the Witch and her creature – figure Shelley’s reply to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as an alternative being beyond Western, Enlightenment notions of the human. Particularly through the envisioning of the nonbinary being of the Witch's creature as well as its flight through the world as an “image” and “sexless thing,” Shelley attempts to conceive of a continuum of gender and sex, one in which the gendered and racialized alterity of the Witch’s creature is embraced and prioritized, even though it may be imperfectly imagined.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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