“Frankenstein Complex” in the Realm of Digital Humanities : Data Mining Classic Horror Cinema via Media History Digital Library (MHDL)

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Filmvetenskap

Abstract: This thesis addresses the complexity of digitalization and humanities research practices, with a specific focus on digital archives and film history research. I propose the term “Frankenstein Complex” to highlight and contextualize the epistemological collision and empirical challenges humanities scholars encounter when utilizing digital resources with digital methods. A particular aim of this thesis is to scrutinize digital archiving practices when using the Media History Digital Library (MHDL) as a case for a themed meta-inquiry on the preservation of and access to classic horror cinema in this particular digital venue. The project found conventional research methods, such as the close reading of classical cinema history, to be limiting. Instead, the project tried out a distant reading technique throughout the meta-inquiry to better interrogate with the massive volume of data generated by MHDL. Besides a general reassessment of debates in the digital humanities and themes relating to horror film culture, this thesis strives for a reflection on classic horror spectatorship through the lens of sexual identity, inspired by Sara Ahmed’s perspective on queer phenomenology. This original reading of horror history is facilitated by an empirical study of the digital corpus at hand, which in turn gives insights into the entangled relation between subjective identities and the appointed research contexts.

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