banner ad for the page

Frankenstein Coming to University Libraries

The University of Washington Libraries has been selected to host the exhibit, "Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature," developed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. UW Libraries is one of 80 libraries to receive a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant of $1,000 for programming related to the exhibition. Partnering with Seattle Public Library, Washington Center for the Book, Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities, University Book Store, and distinguished UW humanities and medical scholars, the UW Libraries will co-sponsor an opening reception, a film and lecture series and book discussions throughout the city.

"Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature" raises a number of questions for audiences at libraries across the country to discuss. Among them are: What is the nature of being "human"? How important are our connections to other living beings, and what are our responsibilities to them, especially those less fortunate than ourselves? What is the nature of power and what are the consequences of its misuse?

The six main sections of the exhibition focus on:

  1. Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein; its metaphorical aspects; and the literary, scientific and political environment that influenced Mary Shelley as she created the scientist and his monster; the complexities of Shelley's monster - his sensitivity and yearning for acceptance into the human community.


  1. The focus of scientific development in the late 18th and early 19th centuries on reanimation and resuscitation of the dead; and the belief that the world's problems could be solved through science.


Passages from the novel and how they illuminate the dilemmas raised by Dr. Frankenstein's ability to create life and his failure to take responsibility for what he has created.


    1. The interpretations and distortions of the Frankenstein story in the 19th and 20th centuries in various media, such as theatre, political cartoons, and film; and the uses of the Frankenstein metaphor in the political and scientific spheres.


    Popular scientific developments in the 1930s when the Frankenstein films attracted a large following, including the glass heart co-developed by Charles Lindebergh and cardiac pace-makers.


      1. Contrasts between science as conducted in Mary Shelley's novel and science as it is pursued in the 21st century, and the ways citizens and experts negotiate the moral and social boundaries of acceptable society, especially in controversial areas such as cloning.

      The Frankenstein exhibition is composed of six sections of freestanding flat panels which have graphics on one side only. Each one of the six sections is approximately 18 feet wide and seven feet high.






      © 1998-2005 University of Washington Libraries