‘Frankenstein’ and medical research, practice and ethics today

Becker Library is co-sponsoring The Curren(t)cy of Frankenstein forum to be held on Sept. 28-30 in Clopton Auditorium as part of Washington University’s year-long celebration of the novel’s 200th anniversary. Space is limited and RSVPs are required (click here to register).

Each day of the forum will begin with a 30-minute reception prior to the 7 p.m. (2 p.m. Sunday) start time, and a performance from the celebrated adaptation of “Frankenstein” by playwright Nick Dear, directed by Bill Whitaker, Professor of Practice in the Performing Arts Department. Each day will then feature a different lecture following the performance and culminate in a panel discussion contemplating the novel’s bearing today in medical research, practice and ethics.

On September 28, celebrated author Luke Dittrich will speak on “Shelley’s Frankenstein and Modern Medical Practice: A Family Story of Lobotomy,” based on his recent book, “Patient H. M.: A Story of Memory, Madness and Family Secrets.” Winner of the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner and named “One of the Best Books of the Year” by The Washington Post, New York Post, NPR, The Economist, Wired, and Kirkus Reviews, Dittrich tells a very personal history of the rise during the 1950s of the psychosurgical procedure known the lobotomy, which his grandfather performed on the young epileptic Henry Molaison and countless others.

On September 29, William Newman, Distinguished Professor and Ruth N. Halls Professor in History and Philosophy at Indiana University, will discuss “Frankenstein, the Homunculus, and the Long History of Artificial Life.” Professor Newman will demonstrate alchemical experiments of the early modern era, for which raising the dead was the supreme feat of alchemy.

On September 30, Minsoo Kang, Professor of History at University of Missouri-St. Louis and author of the acclaimed book “Sublime Dreams of Living Machines” on the history of human automata, will give a joint lecture with Amy Pawl, Senior Lecturer of English at Washington University, an expert on the literary innovations and influence of Mary Shelley’s novel. Pawl’s lecture is titled, We Must Save Frankenstein’s Monster,” and Kang’s lecture is titled, “We Must Kill Frankenstein.”

Space is limited and RSVPs are required for one, two or all three days of the forum. Click here to register.

Organized by:
Rebecca Messbarger
First Director of the Program in Medical Humanities, Professor of Italian at Washington University

Sponsored by:
Center for History Of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine
Office of the Provost, Washington University
Bernard Becker Medical Library
Program in Medical Humanities, Washington University
Center for the Humanities, Washington University Arts & Sciences
Office of Faculty Affairs, Washington University School of Medicine
Department of Developmental Biology, Washington University School of Medicine
Medical Staff Association of Barnes-Jewish Hospital
Arts & Sciences Connections Series

Special thanks:
Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences, Washington University
Bill Whitaker, Professor of Practice in Drama at Washington University