History of Medicine
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Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature
In 1816, an Englishwoman still in her teens, Mary Shelley, conceived a story about a scientist obsessed with creating life. The scientist, Victor Frankenstein, succeeds. But while Frankenstein's creature can think and feel, he is monstrous to the eye. Spurned by all, the embittered creature turns into a savage killer. Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature explores the power of the Frankenstein story to expose hidden fears of science and technology—both in the original novel and shaped into new forms, such as plays, films, and comics. Captivating audiences for almost 200 years, as scientists have gained new knowledge, the Frankenstein story remains like a warning beacon, throwing its unsettling beam upon human efforts to penetrate the secrets of nature.
The online exhibition features a range of resources for educators and students, including lesson plans developed by classroom teachers for middle and high school classes, and a higher education module developed by scholars working in the discipline for undergraduate and graduate students and instructors.
With support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Library of Medicine, the American Library Association adapted the show to travel and Frankenstein became available free of charge to interested libraries from 2002 to 2007. The exhibition continued to travel and was retired in March 2012.
Rutgers University Press published the exhibition catalog in 2002. A year later, the American Association of Museums recognized the publication with an Honorable Mention in the Exhibition Catalog category during the annual Museum Publications Design Competition.