What makes a human? What makes a monster? What makes a “Creature”? On its 200th anniversary, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, endures as cultural fable about the uncertain course of modern science and its political, cultural, and social fallout.
We will consider visual and film representations of the Creature from humanity to monstrosity, including questions of gender, race, sexuality, and ethnicity. From Thomas Edison’s 1910 Film Studio to the Human Genome Project, from classical mythology to the psychology of the alter ego, this strange, arresting novel will focus our conversations about scientific enthusiasm and its perils, including other tales of transgression, outcasts, and “monsters.”
Sample reading list
- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus
- Jean Itard, The Wild Boy of Aveyron
- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
- John William Polidori, The Vampyre
- Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde
- Films: Gods & Monsters, The Bride of Frankenstein, Making Mr. Right
Two 7-page interpretive essays and a reading period exercise. Essay options, interpretive and analytical, are designed to correlate with students’ curiosities and disciplinary interests. Students may write more than the two class-term essays; only the two best will count into the final grade. Planning and writing these essays promises a stimulating adventure, not a chore. Weekly posts will shape our discussions, and may, with consultation, develop into essays.
- Paper in Lieu of Mid Term – 20%
- Paper in Lieu of Final – 25%
- Second Paper – 30%
- Class/Precept Participation – 25%
Prerequisites and Restrictions
This course is open to students of all class years and majors. First-year students with no experience of the novel are encouraged to enroll. The course fulfills a general requirement for Literature and Arts, as well as for the Certificate in Humanistic Studies and the English major.
This course is part of a year-long series of events to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the novel, including colloquia and film screenings (e.g. Bride of Frankenstein, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Gods and Monsters).