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Panel discussion, film to mark 200th year of Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’

ISSUED: 21 August 2018
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Frankenstein turns 200 this year, and Shepherd University’s Department of English and Modern Languages is celebrating with two events that are free and open to the public. The first, “Frankenstein at 200: An Interdisciplinary Panel Discussion,” sponsored by the Department of English and Modern Languages with support from the Paul and Lisa Welch Endowment, will take place Friday, September 7, at 6 p.m. in the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium.

Panelists will include Dr. Benjamin Bankhurst, assistant professor of history, who will provide background on Frankenstein’s place in the early 19th century, an age of revolution and change; Dr. Amy DeWitt, associate professor of sociology, who will discuss how the book informs contemporary discussions of socialization, the family, gender, and deviance; Dr. Carrie Messenger, associate professor of English, who will examine Frankenstein’s influence on literature, film, and popular culture; and Dr. Carol Plautz, professor of biology, who will discuss what light Frankenstein can shed on current debates in science, technology, and bioethics. Dr. Heidi Hanrahan, professor of English, will serve as the moderator.

The second event, a screening of the 1935 movie “Bride of Frankenstein,” sponsored by the Department of English and Modern Languages, Scarborough Society, and Shepherdstown Film Society, will take place on Friday, October 26, at 7 p.m. in Reynolds Hall, followed by a post-film discussion led by Dr. James Pate, assistant professor of English. The 75-minute movie was directed by James Whale.

Hanrahan said “Frankenstein” was first published in 1818 and has remained a cultural touchstone, appealing to generations of readers for what it says about life and death, art, ethics, morality, deviance, science, and technology. Shelley was the daughter of famous writers William Godwin and pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. She lived a life marked by her tumultuous marriage to the Romantic poet Percy Shelley and her own long writing career.

“Perhaps one thing that ‘Frankenstein’s’ readers can agree on is that it is a pleasure to discuss and debate this extraordinary book, its author, and the myriad issues it raises,” Hanrahan said.

For more information, contact Hanrahan at

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