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Everyone knows the story of Frankenstein. Or do they? One of the most enduring myths of the Western world - Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - is the focus of an exciting new traveling exhibition that will begin a six-week visit at the Duluth Public Library on April 27, 2005.
Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature is an exhibition that encourages audiences to examine the intent of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein and to discuss Shelley's and their own views about personal and societal responsibility as it relates to science and other areas of life.
area-wide reading project
2005 - Frankenstein
The tragic story of Victor Frankenstein and the living monster he creates in his laboratory has gripped our imaginations since it was first published in 1818. Mary Shelley was only 18 years old when she began writing Frankenstein. The daughter of social reformists, she believed that knowledge was a defense against the abuse of power by governments and individuals; armed with knowledge, humans could make responsible choices.
Mary Shelley's monster was a sensitive, articulate, and lonely creature that was denied companionship and rejected by humans. He lashes out in revenge only when he is betrayed and abandoned by his maker. But playwrights, filmmakers, and the media have in the past two centuries transformed Shelley's sympathetic creature into a speechless being who kills without remorse.
Over the decades, the monster has also been a symbol for fears about cutting-edge scientific techniques and research that often challenges the public's understanding of what is "natural" and what it means to be human. Frankenstein is frequently mentioned in media accounts of developments such as cloning, gene manipulations, and organ transplants.
The exhibit explores
o the literary, scientific, and political contexts in which the novel Frankenstein was created
o ethical questions raised by the novel
o contrasts between science as practiced in the novel and as pursued in the twenty-first century
o interpretations and distortions of the story in popular culture
In addition to the exhibition, the One Book, One Community Reading Project book selection in 2005 is Frankenstein. The Duluth Public Library is hosting interpretive and educational programs that help audiences and readers examine Mary Shelley's novel and how it uses scientific experimentation as metaphor to comment on cultural values, especially the importance of exercising responsibility toward individuals and the community in all areas of human activity, including science.
The Duluth Public Library is pleased to be one of only 80 libraries in the U. S. hosting this traveling exhibit.
Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature was developed by the National Library of Medicine in collaboration with the American Library Association. It has been made possible by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, D.C., and the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD.
The traveling exhibition is based upon a major exhibition produced by the National Library of Medicine in 1997-1998.