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Frankenstein Symposium
Frankenstein at Smith

November 2-3, 2018

  Frankenstein_Barry Moser
Image: from Barry Moser's Frankenstein, Pennyroyal edition. (Courtesy of Barry Moser and Smith College Special Collections.)

The Kahn Liberal Arts Institute invites the Smith and Five College communities, scholars from near and far, and the public to join in a 200th anniversary celebration of one of literary history's most enduring and generative novels, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, published anonymously by 20-year-old Mary Shelley (1797-1851) on January 1, 1818.

"Creativity and the Creature: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein at 200" is a two-day symposium (with a prologue screening of James Whale's The Bride of Frankenstein on Halloween, Wednesday, October 31) that will host a compelling group of scholars, artists and writers whose work intersects with Shelley's "hideous progeny." These speakers bring a wide range of provocative perspectives to this investigation of Shelley's novel and its continuing impact today. All symposium events are free and open to the public. View a full symposium schedule below.

Read a New York Times article about "Frankenstein at 200" (October 26, 2018).

At Smith, an historically women’s college and home to a substantial Frankenstein rare book collection, the symposium aims to galvanize discussion and debate about why a text about creation and miscreation written by a young woman with very big ideas continues to be so extraordinarily generative and transformational. How can Shelley help us to think through contemporary questions about race, gender, sexuality, disability, identity, bioethics, reproduction, the environment, the human and the nonhuman?

Read biographies of visiting scholars.


Please let us know if you plan to attend the Kahn Institute Frankenstein Symposium


Symposium schedule (all events are free and open to the public):

  Frankenstein lab
Image: "Frankenstein's lab," from Barry Moser's Frankenstein, Pennyroyal edition. (Courtesy of Barry Moser and Smith College Special Collections.)

Wednesday, October 31, 7 p.m., Campus Center Carroll Room

Film screening of The Bride of Frankenstein.

Friday, November 2

All are invited to stop by the Mortimer Rare Book Room (Young Library, second floor) between 1 and 4 p.m., where the center's Frankenstein rare book collection will be on display in conjunction with the symposium.

3-4 p.m., Global Studies Center, Wright Hall
Registration for symposium fellows and visiting scholars.

4-5:30 p.m., Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall
Opening presentation: "Hypertextual Progeny: Shelley Jackson on Mary Shelley, Frankenstein and Patchwork Girl."

8 p.m., Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall
Discussion and Q&A with Les Friedman and Devi Snively; moderated by Alex Keller.

"Frankenfilms from First to Latest," a film screening of the first and most recent productions of Frankenstein. Thomas Edison's Frankenstein, a 15-minute silent film produced in 1910, was the first cinematic adaptation of the novel. One hundred and seven years later, Devi Snively made Bride of Frankie, a comedic feminist take on James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein (see October 31 film screening above).

Saturday, November 3, all events in Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall

10-11 a.m.
"Monstrous Motherhood and the Rights of the Child," a dialogue between Eileen Hunt Botting and Rachel Feder; moderated by Lily Gurton-Wachter.

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
"Race, Colonialism, and Creolization in Frankenstein," a discussion with Jane Gordon, Lewis Gordon and Elizabeth Young; moderated by Cornelia Pearsall.

1:30-3 p.m.
"Skin Shows, Rage, and the Promise of Monsters: A Joint Reflection" with Jack Halberstam and Susan Stryker; moderated by Cameron Awkward-Rich

3:15-4:15 p.m.
"Darkness and Distance: A Closing Conversation," among Amelia Worsley, Lily Gurton-Wachter and Kate Singer