200 years of “Frankenstein” haunt Duquesne

Photo by Katia Faroun/photo editor
The poster above, located in the popular reading room of Gumberg Library, details the origin of the Frankenstein monster and its evolution through modern media. They also outline Shelley’s life. The exhibit will be up until Oct. 6.

Jamie Crow | Staff Writer


During a stormy summer on Lake Geneva in Switzerland 200 years ago, Mary Shelley penned her famous novel Frankenstein for a writing competition between friends. It is a story that has captivated and horrified audiences for ages.

In an effort to celebrate the classic’s longevity, the history of its author and the science behind the fiction, Duquesne University is hosting an exhibit called “Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature.”

The traveling display has a spot on the fourth floor of Gumberg Library until Oct. 6th.

The exhibit, created by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, consists of six panels that detail Shelley’s background, the inception of Frankenstein and how the tale has been interpreted by audiences for two centuries.

The book has been adapted into several plays, movies and other visual works including a spinoff called The Bride of Frankenstein. The posters discuss how each of these interpretations transformed Shelley’s monster.

In addition to the exhibit, Duquesne is also hosting several events over the course of the next month to further discuss Frankenstein’s impact.

On Aug. 30, Gumberg Library hosted a birthday party for Mary Shelley from 3-4:30 p.m. The party was on the anniversary of her 221st birthday. The event is described on Gumberg’s website as a celebration of her life, and will include birthday cake and drinks. Attendees can learn more about the exhibit, and Bill Purse from the Mary Pappert School of Music will play the theremin, an early electronic musical instrument.

Elizabeth Young from Mount Holyoke College will be at the Power Center Ballroom on Friday, Sept. 21 from 1-2:30 p.m. Young is the author of Black Frankenstein: The Making of an American Metaphor, and Gumberg’s website says that she will touch on racial themes in Shelley’s novel and its adaptations.

A panel discussion on the meaning of Frankenstein in the 21st century will be held in the Phenomenology Center of Gumberg Library on Wednesday, Sept. 26 from 3-4:30 p.m. The panel will include Dr. Henk ten Have from the Center for Healthcare Ethics, Rebecca May from the English department and Benjamin Goldschmidt from the Biomedical Engineering department.

To round out the events, a showing of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie will be held in the NiteSpot on Thursday, Sept. 27 and Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Sept. 28 at 9 p.m. Frankenweenie, which came out in 2012, is based on the idea of Frankenstein but instead of the monster being a human, it is a dog.

Each of the events promises to highlight the lasting effect that Shelley’s work has had for generations, and show just how meaningful the work is, even 200 years later.

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