English Literature Research Seminar: "The Science of Life and Death in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein"

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: Engelska parken Room 16-1044
  • Lecturer: Professor Sharon Rushton (University of Lancaster)
  • Organiser: Department of English, Uppsala University
  • Contact person: Emma Clery
  • Seminarium

Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein emerged from a climate of fear. As scientific knowledge increased and new resuscitation techniques were widely reported, the public worried that the boundary between life and death was not as definite as had been thought. There was a real concern that doctors could not tell with any precision when very ill people were alive or dead. Members of the public worried that they might be buried alive or their corpses stolen from their graves for use in medical experiments. The Science of Life and Death in Frankenstein, shows how Shelley capitalised on the uncertainty caused by new scientific and medical ideas of life and death. Her novel continues to produce disquiet and unease even two hundred years after its first publication because of continued anxiety about scientific explorations.

Content warning: topics include suicide, death, illness, hanging, drowning, and disturbing scientific experimentation.