2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s famous novel, Frankenstein. The prescient depiction of science in Frankenstein has helped it become such an enduring classic. The purpose of this one-time reading group is to explore the discourses of birth and the modern body in Frankenstein. Sample discussion topics include (but are not limited to):
- In what ways does Shelley’s novel intervene in 18th– and 19th-century debates around women’s roles as mothers and midwives?
- In what ways does the creature represent a racialized Other according to Romantic-era theories about race and ethnicity, and how does the creature’s racialized aesthetics motivate Victor Frankenstein’s rejection of him?
- What is the significance of Victor Frankenstein’s destruction of the creature’s companion in terms of the novel’s commentary on the right to procreate, and what makes us human?
Participants will have the opportunity, if they wish, to read primary texts from the Romantic period on midwifery and science, as well as academic papers on Frankenstein; or, they may simply attend and learn new ways of reading Frankenstein.
Wendy C. Nielsen earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UC Davis. She is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Montclair State University in New Jersey. She has authored a book, Women Warriors in Romantic Drama (University of Delaware University Press, 2012) and scholarly essays on Romantic-era automata, theater, the drama of the French Revolution, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Olympe de Gouges, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust, Elizabeth Inchbald, Charlotte Corday, and Boadicea. Her new project is titled, Motherless Creations: Artificial Life in Literature and Culture, 1650-1950.