Celebrating 200 years of Frankenstein

Celebrating 200 years of Frankenstein

Five day USMC Celebration pays tribute to Mary Shelley’s acclaimed novel

Michelle Merino CONTRIBUTOR

Image: Michelle Merino / THE MIKE

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and as such the arts community has come to celebrate its incredibly legacy within the world of academia.

To mark the momentous occasion, the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) hosted a 5-day celebration spanning from October 24 to October 31.

With a wide range of events from movie screenings to panel discussions to symposium, the event concluded on October 31 with a live reading of Frankenstein taking place in the Toronto Reference Library.

The event was organized through USMC by Professor Paolo Granata and Assistant Professors Jean-Olivier Richard and Terry F. Robinson.

The symposium held on October 26, self-styled as an “academic campfire,” was a marathon of great lectures from esteemed professors. The one-day symposium lasted from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., taking place in the Chardonnet Lounge at Elmsley Hall. The day was packed with lectures from the keynote speakers: Prof. Mark Canuel from the University of Illinois, Chicago, Josephine Johnston, Director of Research at The Hastings Center, and Dr. Jason Scott Robert from Arizona State University.

The structure of the event divided Frankenstein among the years, the morning consisted of Frankenstein Then with Dr. Canuel delivering a lecture on “Frankenstein and the Progress of Civilizations,” looking at Frankenstein through a historical lens, including Shelley’s life and influences. The afternoon was Frankenstein Now, looking at the context of Frankenstein considering today’s society. Johnston analyzed Frankenstein with an ethical lens during her lecture “Responsible Science: Confronting Today’s Monsters.”

Concluding the event, Dr. Paolo Granata did the final introduction of last keynote speaker Dr. Jason Scott Robert. The evening entailed of Frankenstein Next, with Dr. Granata readjusting focus from the science of Frankenstein, to its humanity. “We focus not just on technology but human nature — the essence of human”, Granata says.

Lastly, Dr. Jason Scott Robert proposed what is to come concerning the context of Frankenstein, with his lecture “Frankenstein and Our Uncanny Future.”

Each lecture was followed by a roundtable discussion giving an opportunity where all Frankenstein fans were able to gather and simply discuss, regardless of age or profession. The organizers succeeded in creating an accessible event that celebrated Shelley’s Frankenstein.

As mentioned by Dr. Granata, USMC is just one of the hundreds of institutions in the world gathering to celebrate the anniversary of Frankenstein. Schools and organizations all over the world are celebrating Shelley’s work, brought together by FrankenReads, the movement created by the Keats-Shelley Association of America.