Part of your participation in the Common Reading Program requires that you email your discussion leader a 250-word response to one of the following three questions by Friday, August 18 at Noon CST. You will receive the name and contact information for your group discussion leader in early August. Your submission will only be read by the faculty or staff member leading your discussion group.
While it may be impossible to trace the wanderings – sometimes purposive, sometimes unexpected – of Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein, it is clear that certain motivations persist. He welcomes love and tenderness but also seeks answers to the greatest questions of his (or anyone’s) existence. Does your reading of his enormous, perhaps unanswerable questions, find him making progress in his understanding of the world we live in?
Dick Gregory, a renowned African-American comedian hailing from St. Louis, performed his routine, “Frankenstein” at Kent State in 1971. In it, he compares the creation of Frankenstein depicted in the 1931 Frankenstein film to the history of slavery and discrimination against African-Americans in the United States. Listen to the five-minute clip of “Frankenstein” by Dick Gregory. Based on your reading of Mary Shelley’s 1818 text and Dick Gregory’s 1971 act, elaborate on the manifestation of fear in the 21st century. Who creates the Other – the Monster – and how? Who is responsible for justifying who and what we can be fearful of?
What comparison could now be made between the devoted, sensitive female characters drawn by Mary Shelley and contemporary women involved in an experimental investigation, intent on further discovery and the passing on of unexplored questions to the next generation of female scientists? For that matter, how might a twenty-first century Mary Shelley want to approach her subject both historically and experimentally?