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Washington University celebrates the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’

Associate professor Corinna Treitel talks about the 200th anniversary celebration of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" novel at Washington University.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio
Associate professor Corinna Treitel talks about the 200th anniversary celebration of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" novel at Washington University.

The iconic image of the monster in "Frankenstein" bears little resemblance to the original monster portrayed in the novel by Mary Shelley. Her novel “Frankenstein” was written 200 years ago, and is celebrated in a series of events at Washington University.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the 200th anniversary of “Frankenstein” with Corinna Treitel, associate professor in the Department of History and chief organizer of the Frankenstein celebration at Washington University.

Shelley began writing the story when she was 18 and published the first edition anonymously two years later in London on Jan. 1, 1818. In the original story, university student Victor Frankenstein created the monster, which was just a creature trying to find its way in the world without any teachers or parents.

Treitel said the story is not a ghost story, nor a supernatural one. The creature, made out of human body parts, was referred to as a demon and fiend among other things. He’s known as a smart creature that learned French and attempts to be a “good guy.”

“This story is a very modern, natural story,” Treitel said. “The novel is incredibly flexible, so there are a whole variety of celebrations that can be organized in its honor.”

Events celebrating the novel started in Aug. 2017, with several more continuing in 2018. Treitel said the story is relevant to students across disciplines – from STEM to medicine and humanities.

“’Frankenstein’ is one of those novels that have been drawn into discussions in all of those fields,” she said. “It’s a perfect opportunity for us to organize a whole series of events and conversations with each other.” The events are open to the public, including a re-creation of an alchemical experiment from the novel in September.

Listen to the full discussion:


St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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