Lehigh University Celebrates Frankenstein

This Halloween celebrated the culmination of a year-long celebration of Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein. Arguably the inventor of the science fiction genre, Shelley’s tale of creation and destruction still resonates two hundred years later. The Lehigh University English department teamed up with the Bethlehem Area Public Library, ArtsQuest, the Health Medicine and Society Program, and the Center for Community Engagement to host a variety of discussions and movie “talk-backs” to bring Shelley’s creature to life for the South Side community ending in a marathon reading of Frankenstein for the international celebration #Frankenreads on October 31st at the main branch of the Bethlehem Area Public Library. 

English graduate students dissected the novel in three part in a series of themed talks open to the public at the main branch of the Bethlehem Area Public Library, with copies of the book on hand for attendees to follow along. Ashlee Simon and Gill Andrews discussed Victor Frankenstein and bioethics in connection with Volume 1 of the novel. The creature as minority, refugee and orphan was the them for Volume 2 with Trisha Nardone and Claire Silva leading the talk. The book talk series wrapped up with Volume 3 and a discussion of companionship, loss and isolation with Cherise Fung and Dr. Elizabeth Dolan.

What Frankenevent would be complete without showcasing some of the most iconic film adaptations? Steel Stacks Banko Alehouse Cinema hosted the classic 1931 James Whale Frankenstein with the talk-back hosted by Shelby Carr and Lauren Van Atta. The Sinclair Auditorium at Lehigh University was the site for a showing of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein hosted by Katherine McCaffery and Ava Bertone. The final film in the series was Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein hosted by the Bethlehem Area Public Library with a post-film talk back led by Sarah Anderle and Heather Flyte. All showings were free and open to the public.


The premier event was the marathon reading of Frankenstein at the Bethlehem Area Public Library as part of  FRANKENREADS – an all-day reading of the novel. Guests and library patrons wandered in and out all day listening to snippets of the book, while volunteers donned Halloween costumes and performed their readings in 10-minute sections. While the event marked the end of Lehigh University’s celebrations, it may also have marked the start of a new series public readings of beloved novels at the library. Stay tuned for details.


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