In this forum in the English Department of Iowa State University, three professors provide three different approaches to teaching Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein.
As Neil Nakadate notes in his introduction to the discussion, the novel has been frequently reprinted and widely re-contextualized, most notably in film, but also frequently appropriated by cartoonist and 'op-ed' writers. Literary study, then, always examines the work in the face of such popular representations.
In the presentations that follow, Susan Yager offers a formalist approach, touching on such aspects as literary allusions and nested narratives in the novel; Laura Mielke presents an historicist approach, suggesting that the novel reflects central elements of Romanticism and the prominence of Revolution in period; and Kathleen Hickok engages a feminist approach, considering Mary Shelley’s relationship with her mother’s feminist writings and the novel’s fear of feminine procreation.
In the discussion that follows, the participants consider, among other things, how high school instructors might teach the novel.