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LIT 43 — Frankenstein (and Friends): A 200th-Anniversary Course

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Sep 24—Nov 12
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 7
Unit: 1
Tuition: $405
Instructor(s): Sarah Willburn
7:00—8:50 pm
Sep 24—Nov 12
8 weeks
Drop By
Oct 7
1 Unit
Sarah Willburn
Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein has been read and pondered since its publication in 1818. We will examine this novel in terms of contemporary Gothic fiction and also look at its literary impact on later 19th-century fiction. This novel is prescient in terms of its accounts of medical innovation. It’s also a tale both mythological and modern. This course will situate Frankenstein in the literary context of the Shelley circle before looking at other Gothic themes and texts that were an enormously popular reflection on 19th-century society. In addition to a central focus on Frankenstein, readings will include classic works by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edmund Burke, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Polidori, Sheridan Le Fanu, Karl Marx, and George Eliot. Our course will examine themes of the sublime, the beautiful, horror, mysticism, invention, rebellion, and revolution. It will also consider concepts of education, salvation, women’s identity, and damnation. While firmly planted in the Romance, or Gothic, genre, Frankenstein holds an eerie realism that focuses on the ethics of discovery, artistry, invention, and ambition; all topics as relevant in 2018 as in 1818.

Stanford University Celebrates Frankenstein@200

The year 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Frankenstein@200 is a year-long series of academic courses and programs that will examine the numerous moral, scientific, sociological, ethical, and spiritual dimensions of the work, and why Dr. Frankenstein and his monster still capture the moral imagination today. For more information on other events, visit frankenstein.stanford.edu. This project is co-sponsored by the Stanford Medicine & the Muse Program, the Stanford Humanities Center, the Stanford Arts Institute, the Office of Religious Life, the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, Stanford Continuing Studies, the Cantor Arts Center, the Department of Art & Art History, and the Center for Biomedical Ethics.

Sarah Willburn, Lecturer in Religious Studies, Stanford

Sarah Willburn has taught courses on 19th-century literature and culture at Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Trinity, Skidmore, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and elsewhere. She is the author of Possessed Victorians and co-author of The Ashgate Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism and the Occult. She received a PhD in English from Duke.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) P. B. Shelley, Zastrozzi (1810) (ISBN 9781978064690)
(Required) Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Penguin Classics) (ISBN 9780141439471)
(Required) Le Fanu, Carmilla (ISBN 9780815633112)
(Required) Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto (ISBN 9781420954005)
(Required) R.L. Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Dover Thrift) (ISBN 9780486266886)
(Required) H. G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau (Dover Thrift) (ISBN 9780486290270)