Mary Shelley is having a moment

Smith College celebrates 200 years of ‘Frankenstein’

  • Shannon Supple, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, pages through first edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley from 1818. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A first edition and first copy of Frankenstein illustrated with original wood carvings by Barry Moser in 1983. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shannon Supple, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, pages through first edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley from 1818. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shannon Supple, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, pages through first edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley from 1818. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A first edition and first copy of Frankenstein illustrated with original wood carvings by Barry Moser in 1983. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shannon Supple, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, pages through first edition of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley from 1818. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shannon Supple, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, pages through first edition and first copy of Frankenstein illustrated with original wood carvings by Barry Moser in 1983. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shannon Supple, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, shows the brass hand of Barry Moser who illustrated with original wood carvings Frankenstein in 1983. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shannon Supple, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, pages through first edition and first copy of Frankenstein illustrated with original wood carvings by Barry Moser in 1983. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shannon Supple, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, pages through first edition and first copy of Frankenstein illustrated with original wood carvings by Barry Moser in 1983. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shannon Supple, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, pages through first edition and first copy of Frankenstein illustrated with original wood carvings by Barry Moser in 1983. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shannon Supple, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, pages through first edition and first copy of Frankenstein illustrated with original wood carvings by Barry Moser in 1983. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Above and below, Shannon Supple, curator of rare books at Smith College, pages through a first edition and first copy of “Frankenstein,” illustrated with original wood carvings by Barry Moser in 1983. These and other items will be part of an exhibit for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s novel. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shannon Supple, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, pages through first edition and first copy of Frankenstein illustrated with original wood carvings by Barry Moser in 1983. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shannon Supple, Curator of Rare Books at Smith College, pages through first edition and first copy of Frankenstein illustrated with original wood carvings by Barry Moser in 1983. This and other items will be part of exhibit for the 200 anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/31/2018 12:40:46 AM

NORTHAMPTON — It was in January of 1818 that a 20-year-old woman published a novel in London that would soon come to capture the public imagination — a tale so frighteningly creative that it has maintained a stranglehold on the imagination and curiosity of readers for 200 years.

“I saw — with shut eyes, but acute mental vision — I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together,” was how Mary Shelley described how the story of Victor Frankenstein and his hideous creation came to her one evening.

This year marks 200 years since the first publication of “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus,” and the occasion is being marked across the world with countless readings, screenings and events. At Smith College, the bicentennial is being celebrated with a two-day symposium featuring scholars, artists and writers whose work intersects with Shelley’s monstrous creation.

Lily Gurton-Wachter, an assistant professor of English at Smith, is one of the event’s co-organizers. She said one of the goals of the symposium was to bring together a wide range of people who interpret “Frankenstein” through different lenses: as a story about race, parenting, the rights of children or the transgender experience, for example.

“The novel is amazingly versatile. In some ways it’s sort of like a Rorschach test, you can see in it many different perspectives, you can use it to think about a lot of different things,” Gurton-Wachter said. “Readers have thought about it in so many different ways. I think that’s the reason why it is so powerful and why it remains with us today.”

Smith itself is home to a substantial “Frankenstein” rare book collection, including a first edition of the book from 1818. The Frankenstein symposium, which will take place Nov. 2 and Nov. 3, is meant to spur discussion about why the text remains so “generative and transformational” 200 years later.

Beth Myers, the college’s director of special collections, said that in an age of “alternative facts,” archives like Smith’s — which is open to the public — provide “documents of truth.”

“Being able to contextualize history, women’s history in particular, is extremely important right now in this moment in the world,” Myers said.

The Frankenstein symposium will kick off on Wednesday with a prologue screening of James Whale's The Bride of Frankenstein in the Campus Center's Carroll Room.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

Jobs



Support Local Journalism


Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy