Frankenstein is about ChatGPT: Thinking and the Future of Literary Study in the Age of Generative AI


  • Ana Ilieska



This paper is a speculative inquiry into how generative Artificial Intelligence may affect our thinking abilities and what the role of the humanities and literary study will be in the process. Drawing on Hannah Arendt’s Socratic notion of thinking as an internal dialogue as well as on various philosophical, psychological, and sociological perspectives on solitude and contempo- rary social character, I show how GenAIs such as ChatGPT present a dual challenge: the potential erosion of human cognitive autonomy and the need for a renewed focus on fostering critical thinking. To illustrate this challenge, I offer a fresh rereading of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) as a warning against thoughtlessness in the age of scientific progress by drawing a parallel between Victor Frankenstein’s lack of solitude and friendship and our own contemporary attitudes towards technology, self, and others. I then ask where thinking can occur in contemporary society, where overstimulation, distraction, and a lack of solitude are widespread. Finally, I call for a renewed emphasis on thinking as a distinct human ability and underscore the importance of literature in preserving spaces for genuine thought and engagement with self and others.

Author Biography

Ana Ilieska

Dr. Ana Ilievska is Senior Research Fellow on the joint project “Desirable Digitalisation: Rethinking AI for Just and Sustainable Futures” between the Universities of Bonn and Cambridge funded by Stiftung Mercator. Before joining the Bonn team, she served as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center and Lecturer in the department of French and Italian at Stanford University. She has studied at Yale, Lisbon, Tübingen, and in Sicily, and holds a PhD from the University of Chicago (2020). A comparatist specializing in Italian, Lusophone, and Balkan Studies, her research and teaching focus on the relationship between literature, philosophy, and technology from a Southern European and Mediterranean perspective. Dr. Ilievska has published articles on Luigi Pirandello, Eça de Queirós, Fernando Pessoa, and Luso-African writers, in addition to numerous translations, reviews, and public scholarship on modernism, poetry, noise, the public humanities, and the ethos of Silicon Valley.




How to Cite

Ilieska, A. (2024). Frankenstein is about ChatGPT: Thinking and the Future of Literary Study in the Age of Generative AI. Status Quaestionis, (26).